One should always be cautious about placing too much emphasis on data for a single month, but the state employment report for August (released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) includes several encouraging signs for Arkansas. Among the highlights of the report:
- The unemployment rate in Arkansas fell by three-tenths of a percent to 7.1%. The Arkansas unemployment rate is now 2.6 percentage points lower than the national average. Arkansas was one of only 16 states to experience an unemployment rate decline.
- Underlying the decline in the unemployment rate was a decrease in the number of people unemployed. In July, Arkansas unemployment rolls topped 100,000 for the first time. The August report shows that number falling to 96.5 thousand.
- Nonfarm payroll employment rose slightly in August. Arkansas was one of only 8 states to experience an increase. Moreover, the data for July were revised upward to show a net gain for that month as well. (Arkansas was one of only 3 states to experience employment gains in both July and August).
- Employment in goods producing sectors remains weak, but some of the key service-providing industries continue to show reslience. For July and August, net job gains were recorded in Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, Other Services, and Government.
- The payroll employment data confirm a trend observed in a previous post: After declining by 26.4 thousand between October 2008 and March 2009, the employment situation in Arkansas is stablizing. Since March, employment has been approximately flat, with a net increase of 600 jobs through August.
– Michael Pakko