The September report on state-level employment and unemployment showed that the Arkansas unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.0%. The national unemployment rate was 5.0% in September, also up 0.1 percentage points.
The September report on household employment and unemployment represented a continuation of the trends that emerged over the summer. The number of unemployed Arkansans was up 1,513 and the number of employed was down by 541. September was the fourth consecutive month in which unemployment increased and employment declined.
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment increased by 3,300 in September (seasonally adjusted*). Employment in Education & Health Services accounted for much of the gain, increasing by 2,300 jobs. Manufacturing employment registered an increase of 1,200, but was still down by 300 jobs compared to a year ago. In fact, employment has declined over the past 12 months in each of the major goods-producing sectors (Mining & Logging, Construction, and Manufacturing), while increasing in every service-providing super-sector.
Relative to pre-recession levels, total payroll employment in Arkansas has increased by 25,200 — a gain of about 2.1%. Over the same period, nationwide employment has increased by 4.6%. Payroll employment expanded by more than 2% in both 2014 and 2015, but has slowed in 2016: From December 2015 through September 2016, Arkansas employment is up by only 5,800, or 0.5%.
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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.