The unemployment rate in Arkansas fell by two-tenths of a percent to 8.0% November. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the number of unemployed Arkansans declined by 3,219. The household survey also showed an increase of nearly 10,000 employed, so the unemployment rate declined in the context of a sharp increase in the labor force.
The independent payroll survey also showed a significant increase in employment. Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 7,100 for the month, a gain of 0.6% (seasonally adjusted*). According to the press release from the BLS, this was the second-largest over-the-month percentage increase in the nation (employment in South Carolina increased by 0.9%). As shown in the table below, gains were prominent in service-providing sectors — particularly Professional & Business Services (+2,500) and Education & Health Services (+2,000). Gains in Retail Trade employment also boosted the Trade, Transportation & Utilities category, which increased by 1,100 jobs. The November data also showed a sharp increase in Manufacturing employment (+1,400).
Since peaking in April 2011, employment in Arkansas had been on the decline for much of the year. The November increase (on top of a revised 1,200 job gain in October) represents a welcome reversal of that trend. On net, however, employment remains 1,200 below the April peak. Compared to the trough registered in February 2010, employment in Arkansas has increased by 29,400. Nevertheless, the total number of jobs remains 29,100 below the level recorded at the start of the recession in December 2007.
# # #*Seasonally adjusted data for nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, are available here: Table – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.