The Arkansas unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent in July to 7.3%. The national unemployment rate was also up one-tenth for the month, so Arkansas remains 1.0% lower than the U.S. average. The uptick in unemployment was seen across most of the country: the news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that Arkansas was one of 44 states to see an increase for the month. Arkansas was also one of 44 states with a lower unemployment rate than a year earlier.
Underlying the unemployment rate increase was a 4,800 decline in the number of employed and an increase of nearly 1,400 in the number of unemployed. The number of unemployed had fallen below 100,000 in June, but the July figures show that it crept back up over that threshold in July. The decline in employment implied a contraction in the labor force participation rate for the second consecutive month.
The independent payroll survey showed a decline of 2,400 jobs (seasonally adjusted). This is far smaller than the not-seasonally-adjusted figures released by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, which showed a decline of 16,800. The unadjusted numbers were primarily attributable to the common seasonal decline in employment at public schools and universities in July (which shows up in the local government category).
Sectors showing seasonally adjusted declines in July included Construction (-1,800), Transportation and Utilities (-1,000), Leisure and Hospitality services (-1,400). Manufacturing employment was up by 700, bringing total employment in that sector back up to the same level as a year earlier. Compared to July of 2011, Construction continues to be the weakest sector, with employment down 4,900 (seasonally adjusted).
Overall, the July employment report confirms the weakening of labor markets compared to the first part of the year — both nationally and here in Arkansas.
# # #*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.