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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – April 2013

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell slightly in April, declining from 7.2% to 7.1%.  The household survey reported that employment increased by nearly 1,700 and unemployment dropped by more than 800.  The resulting increase in the labor force interrupted a string of 14 consecutive monthly of declines.   The April increase is a welcome change.  Nevertheless, from its recent peak in January 2012, the Arkansas labor force has experienced a cumulative contraction of 36,800.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The 0.1% decline in Arkansas’ unemployment rate matches the drop in the national rate reported for April.  Compared to a year earlier, however, Arkansas unemployment rate has declined by only 0.2%, compared to a drop of 0.6% for the nation as a whole.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment increased by 4,500 for the month (seasonally adjusted*) — the largest monthly gain since October of 2012.   Employment in goods-producing sectors was essentially flat, with the job gains concentrated in service providing sectors.  Increases were notable in Professional & Business Services (+2,200) and in Retail Trade (+2,200).  For the first four months of the year, job growth in Arkansas has averaged over 2,000 per month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Since the employment trough of February 2010, cumulative employment growth has added 38,800 jobs to Arkansas payrolls, representing about two-thirds of the jobs lost between December 2007 and February 2010.  Total nonfarm payroll employment in April was 1.5% below its pre-recession peak.  For the entire United States, April employment remained 1.9% below the pre-recession peak.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, are available hereTable – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.