The latest information on Arkansas employment and unemployment was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services this morning. The reports indicate that the employment situation in Arkansas is continuing to improve.
The unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percent, falling to 7.5 percent in June. The number of unemployed fell by 4,100 to 100,943. This is the lowest reading since the number of unemployed first topped 100,000 in June of 2009. The unemployment rate would have fallen further had it not been for a contraction in the size of the labor force. The labor force declined by more than 8,000 in June, following three months of previous declines. The most obvious explanation for this phenomenon is an increase in the number of “discouraged workers” who have given up looking for employment–at least for the time-being. Overall, however, the news from the June employment report should serve as a reason for more encouragement going forward.
The payroll survey for June showed a healthy rate of job-creation: Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 6,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted). Since December of last year, payroll employment has risen by 11,400 and it is up by 4,200 from a year ago. From the low-point for employment measured in February 2010, the number of jobs has increased by more than 15,000.
Recent data have shown employment gains in some of the key sectors for the Arkansas economy: Manufacturing employment was up by 1000 jobs, and has now increased for five consecutive months. Employment in Trade, Transportation and Utilities edged up by 800 jobs in June, recovering the job losses from earlier in the year. Employment in Education and Health services resumed a healthy pace of job creation, increasing by 4,500 jobs in June.
Interpreting the growth in public sector employment is complicated by seasonal patterns and changes in the Census Bureau’s employment of temporary workers. On a not-seasonally-adjusted basis, government employment was down by 4,700 jobs, with an 1,800 decline in Federal Government employment largely attributable to the winding-down of Census Bureau employment. However, much of the decline in state and local government employment was related to typical fluctuations in public school employment. After taking account of this school-year phenomenon, seasonally adjusted employment by government entities increased by 1,800 (with federal government employment down by 2,100 jobs and state & local employment up by a total of 3,900 jobs).
# # #*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 here: Table – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.