The latest jobs report shows another of month of positive trends in Arkansas. Figures released Friday by the Department of Workforce Services report the state’s unemployment rate dropping from 7.1 percent to 6.9 percent.
Michael Pakko, the Chief Economist and State Economic Forecaster at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Institute for Economic Advancement, said month-to-month changes often aren’t too meaningful but this report lends credence to the idea of an improving economy.
“It’s the first time since January of 2009 that the rate’s been under seven percent. That’s definitely making some progress. I think more important is the trend that this continues. This was the seventh consecutive month that we’ve seen household employment increase and unemployment decline,” said Pakko.
He does caution some of the gains were part of a regular uptick in seasonal sectors. But Pakko said even after seasonal adjustments employment in most sectors still showed signs of positive growth including a sector instrumental in spurring on the recession.
“A big portion of the downturn was related to the housing market. Since we saw real estate sales start to pick up last summer that was a good sign that boded well for construction spending. In the past several months we’ve started to see some gains in construction and that’s been a long awaited recovery," said Pakko.
He added it’s the second consecutive monthly report with a two-tenths of a percent decline in unemployment. He said that’s not typical and calls it “really good news.”