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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – February 2024

Data on Arkansas employment and unemployment for February showed signs of resilience in the state’s labor markets. After rising to 3.7% over the second half of 2023, the unemployment rate ticked downward from 3.7% in January to 3.6% in February. The national unemployment rate increased from 3.7% to 3.9% in February.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The decline in Arkansas’ unemployment rate was driven by a fairly sharp drop in the number of unemployed, -1,365. The number of employed increased, but by only 1,105. As a result, the labor force declined slightly—the first monthly decline since July 2021. Although the increase in employment was not enough to offset the decline in unemployment, February marked the fourth consecutive month of employment growth.

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm Payroll Employment was up by 2,400 in February, after an upward revision of 1,400 to January’s total (seasonally adjusted data). Expanding sectors included Construction, along with several service-providing sectors. Employment in durable goods manufacturing was up slightly (+300), but non-durable goods employment was down by 1,000. Other sectors showing job declines included wholesale and retail trade, information services, and professional & business services.

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

Over the past twelve months, we’ve seen expansion across most service-providing sectors. In the goods-producing sectors, growth has been strong in construction employment, but manufacturing employment is down. Total employment growth over the past twelve months has been 15,400 jobs—about 1.1% growth. Over the same period, U.S. payroll employment growth was approximately 1.8%.

It has been four years since the peak-employment of February 2020, just before the onset of the pandemic-related contraction. Relative to that prior high-point, Arkansas employment growth has totaled 5.2%, compared to 3.6% for the U.S.

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

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Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format consistent with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.