Data on employment and unemployment in Arkansas were released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the report indicates a continuation of the trends we’ve seen in recent months. There is no clear inidication of an upturn in employment, but neither is there evidence that the employment situation is deteriorating. However, buried among the details of the report are some encouraging tidbits.
The household survey showed a decline in the unemployment rate, from 7.6 percent in October to 7.4 percent in November. More important, the raw numbers that underlie the unemployment rate showed an increase of more than 10,000 in the number of people employed and a decrease of almost 2500 in the number of people unemployed.
The payroll survey showed an increase in jobs for November as well, although the data for October were revised downward to more than offset those gains. Nevertheless, since March of 2009 nonfarm payrolls have shed only 2,500 jobs — a decline of about 0.2%.
The sectoral composition of job gains and losses in November showed some interesting features: Increases were registered in Construction (+1000), Manufacturing (+300), and Transportation (+1100)–three sectors that have been hard-hit during the recession. In contrast, employment in Education and Health services declined by 1800 jobs in November. Health services has added 13,000 jobs to the Arkansas economy since the beginning of the recession, but recent budgetary constraints at major hospitals has evidently stalled further expansion in this sector — for now.
Recovery in employment is likely to be a long, slow process. At this point, the data suggest that we’re still in a period of stabilization.