Figures released by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services Monday show an increase in the number of workers who’ve found a job. The unemployment rate dropped a tenth of one percent to 7.3 percent in January, compared to December. It’s also two-tenths of a percent lower from the same time last year.
Dr. Michael Pakko with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute for Economic Advancement says overall the numbers show positive trends in the state’s economy.
“What we're seeing is that some weakness that seemed to pervade labor markets through much of 2012 and 2013 seems to have really turned around. Since about August of last year, we're seeing the trends all move in a positive direction. So I think that's very encouraging,” he says.
Pakko points out that the service sector seems to be doing the most hiring. He also notes that areas like construction are relative stable, even though the winter months usually mean jobs in that industry are typically shed.
“I think we should continue to see fairly strong growth in many of the service providing sectors. Manufacturing has been weak. I don't know if we'll see much of an improvement, at least in employment terms, there. One of the emerging bright spots should be construction. We've seen the residential real estate market pick up. That should be an indication of stronger home sales and stronger home construction statistics,” Pakko says.
The Arkansas rate of unemployment is still higher than the national rate of 6.7 percent. But Pakko says he foresees growth in Arkansas in the coming months.
Pakko says he expects both the state and national unemployment rates to decline slowly but steadily over the course of this year.
You can read the state Department of Workforce Services report on January 2014's employment figures here.