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.
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.
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.
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.
# # #*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 here: Table – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.