The latest information on Arkansas employment and unemployment was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services this morning. The unemployment rate held steady in April at 7.8 percent, while the number of employed declined slightly from March.
Although the unemployment rate itself was unchanged, the household survey showed that the number of unemployed people declined from 197.1 thousand to 106.3 thousand. This was the first monthly drop in the number of unemployed since March of 2008. This drop failed to have an impact on the unemployment rate, however, since the number of employed reported in the household survey also declined.
The payroll survey also indicated a slight decline in the number of jobs. Total nonfarm payrolls were down by approximately 1600 jobs in April (seasonally adjusted).* The April decline follows a sharp increase we saw in March (up 8900 jobs, revised). In terms of longer-term performance, therefore, the April decline does not appear to signal any change in the trend of employment growth. For the first four months of the year, nonfarm payrolls have increased by 3600. Employment is stabilizing, but there is no clear indication (yet) of a resumption of long-term job growth.
The decline in nonfarm payroll employment in April was largely attributable to service-providing sectors. Goods-producing sectors had been very hard-hit during the recession so recent increases in manufacturing employment, in particular, have represented welcome news.
# # #*Seasonally adjusted data for nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly press release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, are available here: Table – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.