Arkansas labor markets continued their snails’-pace recovery in July. The official unemployment rate declined by one-tenth of a percent, to 4.3%, but that change was essentially within the range of rounding error. From March through July, Arkansas’ unemployment rate showed a cumulative decline of 0.075 percentage points. The national unemployment rate dropped by 0.5 percentage points in July, but at 5.4% remains more than a full percentage point higher than Arkansas.
The underlying statistics from the household survey showed that the number of unemployed declined by nearly 1,000, but the number of employed also declined, falling by 1,591. As a result, the labor force continued to slide lower, falling by 2,542 in July.
Relative to the pre-pandemic month of February 2020, the number of unemployed is up by 6,933, while the number of employed is down by 23,247 (about 1.8%).
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 3,700 in July and the estimate for June was revised upward by 1,700 jobs (seasonally adjusted data). Not-seasonally adjusted data showed a decline of nearly 15,000 jobs in July, but most of that decline was attributable to the lower employment in Education and Local Government associated with schools’ summer break. After seasonal adjustment, the number of jobs in Education & Health Services and Government both registered increases. Most sectors showed small changes for the month, although Construction fell by 1,000 jobs. Employment in Manufacturing was higher overall, but the gains were entirely in durable goods production, with employment in nondurable manufacturing continuing to drift lower.
Compared to pre-pandemic employment levels, durable goods manufacturing is up by 5,500 jobs, while jobs in the nondurable goods are down 5,400. In total, payroll employment is down 25,600 from its level in February 2020, with most of the losses concentrated in Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality Services, and Government.
The net decline of 25,600 jobs since February 2020 amounts to a percentage decline of 1.7%. In comparison, payroll employment nationwide remains 3.7% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
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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.