Arkansas labor market continued to recover in July from the pandemic-related job-losses of March and April; however, the pace of the rebound slowed. Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined by one full percentage point from 8.1% (revised) in June to 7.1% in July. The U.S. unemployment rate declined by 0.9% from 11.1% to 10.2%.
The decline in Arkansas’ unemployment rate reflected a drop of 14,272 in the number of unemployed and an increase of 4,862 in the number of employed. As a result, the labor force declined by 9,410, and is now down approximately 63,000 from February (-4.6%).
Nonfarm payroll employment growth slowed significantly in July. After recovering 49,100 jobs in May and June (including an upward revision of 3,100 jobs in June), payroll employment was up only 1,600 jobs in July (seasonally adjusted data). As shown in the table below, Goods producing sectors lost jobs in July with Construction down 400 and Manufacturing down 1,500. Service-providing sectors generally added jobs, particularly in the hard-hit sectors of Education & Health Services and Leisure & Hospitality Services. Government employment was down 2,100 jobs, with the losses exclusively in on the local government level. It is typical to see declines in local government employment during the summer school recess, but the July’s decline in the seasonally-adjusted measure indicates declines that go beyond the ordinary seasonal fluctuations.
Compared to July 2019, total payroll employment was down 60,500, a decline of 4.7%. The year over year job-losses are concentrated in Manufacturing and Leisure & Hospitality Services, with notable declined in Education & Health Services and Government.
Relative to the pre-COVID-19 employment peak in February, payroll employment was down 68,100 jobs, or 5.3% in July. By comparison, total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment was down 8.4% from its February peak.
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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.