The September report on employment and unemployment in Arkansas suggests a slight weakening of labor market conditions. The unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points, from 2.7% in August to 2.9% in September. The national unemployment rate was 3.8% in September. The difference between the U.S. and Arkansas unemployment rates remains statistically significant. Despite September’s increase, the Arkansas unemployment rate below 3% remains exceptionally low.
The increase in the unemployment rate was attributable to the second month of increase in the number of unemployed. The number of unemployed was up 2,561 in September after increasing 1,715 (revised) in August. Despite these increases, the number of unemployed remains below 40,000 and the unemployment rate lower than 3% should be considered a sign of ongoing tightness of labor markets. The number of employed continued its long span of expansion, albeit at a slower pace over the past two months. The labor force continues to grow.
Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 3,300 jobs in September (seasonally adjusted). Declining sectors included Durable Goods Manufacturing and Retail Trade. Employment Leisure and Hospitality Services declined in September as well, but remains well-above year-ago levels. Sectors adding jobs in September included Construction and Professional and Business Services.
Over the past 12 months, nearly 20,000 jobs have been added to the Arkansas economy (a growth rate of 1.5%). Much of the growth has been concentrated in a few sectors, including Construction, Education & Health Services, and Leisure & Hospitality Services.
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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.