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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2024

The report on state employment and unemployment for March represents another upbeat reading on Arkansas labor market conditions. The unemployment rate declined by one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.5%. The U.S. unemployment rate declined from 3.9% to 3.8% for the month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The decline in the unemployment rate was driven by a drop of 1,228 in the number of unemployed, nearly matching the 1,322 decline of the previous month. In February and March, the number of unemployed has once again fallen below 50,000, after hovering slightly above that threshold from October 2023 through January 2024. Employment was up by 1,747 in March, outpacing the unemployment decline and resulting in a small expansion of the labor force (+519).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 6,500 jobs in March (seasonally adjusted). The increase represented a growth rate of 0.48% for the month (a 5.9% annual rate), which turned out to be the highest growth rate for March among all 50 states.

As shown in the table below, employment gains were widespread across sectors. Construction was off slightly from February, but remains among the fastest-growing sectors compared to a year ago. Employment in manufacturing was higher for both durable and nondurable goods. Among service-providing sectors, only Transportation & Utilities and Education & Healthcare showed small declines (although Health Care employment was up for the month). Both Professional & Business Services and Leisure & Hospitality services showed relatively large increases for the month after displaying sluggish growth over much of 2023.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The job growth in March raised the year-over-year growth rate of Arkansas employment to 18,500 jobs, or 1.4%. Over the same period, U.S. payroll employment expanded by 1.9%. As shown in the following figure, Arkansas continues to surpass the U.S. in cumulative growth since February 2020, with Arkansas employment expanding by 5.6% compared to 3.9% for the U.S.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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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.