The November report on state labor market data showed another strong month for Arkansas. The unemployment rate dropped by another 0.3 percentage points and payroll employment continued its trend of rapid expansion.
The headline was another drop in the Arkansas unemployment rate from 3.7% in October to 3.4% in November. The national unemployment rate had previously been reported as falling by 0.4 percentage points in November, but Arkansas’ rate remains 0.8 percentage points lower.
The underlying data from the household survey showed the number of employed increased by 4,764 and the number of unemployed falling by more than 4,181. The number of unemployed for the month, 46,351, was the lowest total in the series history (dating back to 1976). With the change in employment increasing slightly more than the decline in unemployment, the labor force expanded slightly (+583).
Meanwhile, the potential labor force (defined as the civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over) continues to grow. Hence, Arkansas’ labor force participation rate continues to languish at 57.0%, down 1.3 percentage points from early 2020. The labor force participation rate for the U.S. stood at 59.2% in November, down 1.9 percentage points since February 2020.
Nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 3,300 jobs in November (seasonally adjusted). Employment in goods-producing sectors was down slightly, with the exception of a slight improvement in nondurable goods employment. In service-providing sectors, gains were prominent in Professional & Business Services (particularly in Administrative & Support Services), Health Care & Social Assistance, Financial Activities, and Transportation & Utilities. Sectors showing declines included Construction, Retail Trade Accommodation & Food Service, and Other Services. (For more detail, see PDF.)
In October and November alone, payroll employment expanded by more than 10,000 jobs, or 0.8%. Over the past 12 months, the increase of nearly 28,000 jobs amounts to a growth rate of 2.2%. Compared to the pre-recession month of February 2020, Arkansas payroll employment is down by 15,000 jobs or 0.9%. Nationally, payroll employment remains 2.6% lower than in February 2020.
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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.