It’s data-revision season at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today we saw the release of revised household employment and unemployment statistics by state. For Arkansas, the changes were fairly minor, with the revised figure for the state’s annual unemployment rate in 2019, 3.5%, unchanged from previously-reported estimates. As shown in the figure below, the revisions had the effect of smoothing some of the monthly ups-and-downs in the data over the past several months. The revised data show the unemployment rate at year-end to be 3.5%, one-tenth below the 3.6% originally reported.
One aspect of the revision that is noteworthy: As previously reported, Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined to 3.4% in July and August last year, establishing a new record low for the series. The revised data do not show that slight summer dip, so the officially recorded low for the series is now 3.5%.
Revisions to the underlying components of the unemployment rate indicated modest changes. Originally, the number of unemployed was reported to have expanded to over 50,000 in early 2019, then dropping below 47,000 during the summer months. The revised data show the number of unemployed to be steady throughout the year, moving narrowly within a range of 48,000 to 49,000. Both employment and the labor force were revised higher for the latter part of 2018, lower during mid-2019, and ending the year slightly lower than originally reported.
The impact of the revisions on household employment growth is shown in the figure below. Over the full two-year period from December 2017 through December 2019, the state’s employment growth rate was revised down from 0.8% to 0.7%. Growth rates over that time show a somewhat different pattern for pre-revision vs. post-revision data: It was previously reported that employment growth slowed during mid-2018 then ended 2019 with an acceleration. The revised data suggest stronger employment growth during 2018, but with the growth rate sagging to below 0.5% during the latter part of 2019.