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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2024

New employment and unemployment data for January was mixed. Data from the household survey showed only small changes in the number of employed and unemployed Arkansans. The payroll survey showed mixed results for the month, but data revisions suggest significant changes from previously reported levels and growth rates for some sectors.

After being revised upward from 3.4% to 3.7% for December (see HERE), the unemployment rate was unchanged in January. With the recent revisions, the Arkansas unemployment rate has matched the U.S. rate In November, December and January. Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national unemployment rate rose to 3.9%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The data underlying the unemployment rate were little changed in January. The number of unemployed was estimated to have risen by 46, and the number of employed increased by 460, for a change in the labor force of just over 500. The figures below illustrate these changes in the context of the recent revisions to the data.

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

Payroll Employment
The not-seasonally adjusted data for nonfarm payroll employment showed a decline of 17,700 jobs from December to January. However, there is always a post-holiday season drop-off in January employment. After seasonal adjustment, the data show an increase of 2,700 jobs. Monthly changes were mixed, with Construction and Retail Trade showing significant increases. Employment declines were reported for Durable Goods Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, Financial Services and Other Services. Differences across sectors are even more noticeable when comparing growth from a year ago. Year-over-year gains in Construction, Retail Trade  and Education and Health Services have been significant. Other sectors have shown small changes over the past year. Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, and Professional & Business services are three sectors that have shown notable job losses in the past 12 months.

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

Revisions to Payroll Data
Having concluded their annual benchmark revisions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics included newly revised data on payroll employment in this morning’s report. The revised not-seasonally adjusted data, now adjusted to 2023 benchmark levels, were revised back to April 2022. Seasonal factors were subject to small revisions going back to January 2019. For total nonfarm payroll employment, the revisions had the effect of lowering the level of employment by 7,400 as of December 2023. The new data show a two year growth rate of 4.0% for the period December 2021 through December 2023, down from the previously-reported 4.4%.

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

The table below details the changes, by sector, in the levels of employment for December 2023, along with changes in the two-year growth rates for December 2021 through December 2023. Because the largest revisions were made to the most recent data, the changes in the levels of employment reported in the first column tend to carry over into revisions of the corresponding two-year growth rates. Some of the more notable revisions were for Retail Trade, Transportation & Utilities, Information Services, and Other Services.

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.