Data for May show that Arkansas labor markets continue their robust expansion. The Arkansas unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage point to 2.7% in May—a new series low. (Arkansas was one of seven states to have the lowest unemployment rate on record in May.) It had been previously reported that the national unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7% in May, so Arkansas’ rate is now a full percentage point below the national average.
The data underlying the unemployment rate are remarkable as well: The number of unemployed declined by 1,926, setting a new record-low for that series. The number employed rose 4,257 and the labor force expanded by 2,331. Both figures represent series highs (all series date back to 1976). In the past four months, the number unemployed has fallen by 9,509, while the number employed is up 16,738.
Nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 5,900 jobs in May (seasonally adjusted). Compared to a year earlier, payroll employment is up 36,300 (about 2.7%). Monthly increases were notable in several sectors, particularly in the service-providing sectors. Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, and Leisure & Hospitality services all expanded significantly. On the goods-producing side, Construction and Manufacturing showed monthly gains as well. The only weak areas in employment growth were small declines in Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, Transportation & Utilities, and Information services.
Most sectors have expanded over the past twelve months, with the exception of Retail Trade and Information Services which are down slightly from their peaks. Year-over-year gains are particularly prominent in Leisure & Hospitality services, Education & Health Services, and Construction.
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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.