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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2020

Arkansas’ unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5% in January. The number of unemployed declined by 120, while the number employed increased by 2,155. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed has fallen by 720 while the number employed has risen by 4,697 (an increase of 0.4%).

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

Payroll Employment
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment increased by 400 in January (seasonally adjusted). After the annual benchmark revisions to recent data, the January employment level was only 2,900 higher than in January 2019 (an annual growth rate of 0.3%).

Employment in most sectors expanded in January, but the notable exceptions of Manufacturing (-1,200) and Professional & Business Services (-2,400). The monthly press release from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services reported that the decline in manufacturing was attributable to durable goods manufacturing, “with reported contractions in fabricated metal products and in transportation equipment manufacturing.” Including mark-downs to previously-reported growth in revised data, Manufacturing was down by 2,200 jobs compared to January 2019.

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

Benchmark Revisions
Today’s data release included the annual “benchmark revisions” to the state payroll data. Not seasonally adjusted data beginning with April 2018 and seasonally adjusted data beginning with January 2015 were subject to revision. After revision, total nonfarm payroll employment in December 2019 was 5,900 jobs below the number that was originally reported.

As shown in the figure below, the revised employment data indicate quite a different growth pattern than the previously-reported data. The unrevised figures suggested fairly steady growth over the past two years, with a growth rate of 1.0% in 2018 and 1.4% in 2019 (December-to-December). The revised figures show higher growth for 2018 (1.5%), but considerably slower net growth in 2019. From December 2018 through December 2019, cumulative employment growth was only 0.5%. The revised data suggest that employment declined, on net, from January through September of 2019, then regained those losses only during the final quarter of the year.

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

A breakdown of employment revisions by sector shows that some sectors are estimated to have grown more slowly than earlier reports indicated, while others have expanded more rapidly. For example, over the two-year period from December 2017 through December 2019, employment in Wholesale Trade was originally reported to be 7.3%. After revision, growth of only 4.9% remains. Sectors that are now estimated to have grown more rapidly than previously reported include Transportation and Utilities and Other Services.

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

The figures below illustrate the impact of benchmark revisions on Arkansas employment by sector:

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 Department of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.