There has been a slight increase in the state’s unemployment rate, according to officials with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. The jobless rate for July was up one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent.
Bernadette Coleman is the Bureau of Labor Statistics manager with the department. She says the small hike is partially due to seasonal factors.
"The summer has something to do with it. One thing I particularly think about is the school situation, because schools are still out in July… so the summertime does make a difference,” said Coleman.
Coleman says government employment for July fell by 13,900 jobs and was one of six major industry sectors that showed declines in the number of people working.
Workforce Services officials report that the drop in government employment was due to public schools and universities being on summer break.
The 7.4 percent unemployment rate this July mirrored figures in July 2012, though there are 1,700 fewer unemployed state residents than a year ago.
“It’s not unusual for the unemployment rate to go up slightly. The economy is still difficult right now even though Arkansas hasn’t fared as badly as some other states have,” said Coleman. “We have to go through a period of adjustment so we are not alarmed by the one-tenth of a percent increase, but we certainly hope August will give us a better picture.”
Despite the decline in government jobs, department officials report jobs in professional and business services grew by 2,000 in July. Four sectors showed gains.
The national unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.4 percent for July.