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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – July 2011

The unemployment rate in Arkansas rose again in July, reaching a new cyclical high of 8.2% (up from 8.1% in June).  The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) indicated that the number of Arkansans unemployed rose for the third straight month, up 1,400 in July following a cumulative increase of 3,600 in May and June.  The household survey also showed a decline in the number of those employed, down 7,400. 

The employment data from the household survey have been showing a downward trend since March, falling by a total of nearly 25,000.  However, the establishment survey (which is based on reports from employers) shows a slowdown, but with net positive growth since the beginning of the year.  As illustrated in the figure below, employment measured by the payroll survey has been growing–albeit irregularly–since February 2010.  But since March, net growth in payroll employment has been virtually zero (-0.02%).

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The payroll data for July shows a slight uptick in employment, rising by 600 jobs from the revised level in June (seasonally adjusted).  As shown in the table below, employment declines were registered in some key sectors for the Arkansas economy, including Manufacturing; Trade, Transportation, & Utilities; and Professional & Business Services.  Employment in Leisure & Hospitality Services and Education & Health Services expanded.  In a surprising break from its sluggish recent trend, construction employment rose sharply in July.   Looking at job growth since then end of 2010, only one sector (Manufacturing) has shown negative net growth.  Led by gains in the service providing sectors, total payroll employment has increased by 7,100 jobs during 2011. 

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The seasonally adjusted data from the BLS summarized in the table above is quite a bit different than the not seasonally adjusted data in the press release from DWS.  Before seasonally adjustment, the Arkansas payroll employment was down by 15,600 jobs.  Most of this decline was registered in the category of Local Government (-13,200), reflecting the seasonal decline in employment in the state’s public schools.  The not-seasonally-adjusted data also show a larger decline in Professional & Business Services.

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

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