Arkansas’ jobless rate rises in October

With almost 4,800 more Arkansans unemployed during October, the state’s jobless rate inched higher to 7.2%.

October marked the 45th consecutive month Arkansas’ jobless rate has been above 7%. The October jobless rate in Arkansas of 7.2% was higher than the 7.1% in September, but well below the 8.1% in October 2011.

Employed Arkansans were an estimated 1.273 million in October, up 10,255 jobs  compared to October 2011, according to the Tuesday (Nov. 20) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, the BLS estimate shows 4,739 fewer Arkansans were employed in October than September, with the number of unemployed at 98,253, slightly below the 98,313 in September.

The September-October drop does not appear to be part of a seasonal shift. In 2011, the October report had 4,327 more jobs than September, and in 2010 the October report had 1,311 more jobs than September.

Arkansas officials focused on the positive year-over-year figure.

“Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose slightly this month, as employment declined 4,700. There are still 10,300 more employed and 11,000 fewer unemployed Arkansans than in October 2011,” Kimberly Friedman, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, said in a statement.

The state’s tourism sector topped the year-over-year growth chart with an increase of 5,600 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities sector posted 5,300 more jobs between October and October 2011.

The workforce fell in October to 1.372 million, down 4,799 from September and down 759 compared to October 2011.

ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS

In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during October was an estimated 237,100, above the 233,300 during September and ahead of the 231,800 during October 2011. Peak employment in the sector was 240,400 during January 2009.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during October totaled 155,700, unchanged from September and up 500 jobs compared to October 2011. Employment in the once booming manufacturing sector fell in 2011 to levels not seen since early 1968. The June jobs figure is more than 34% below the January 2001 sector employment of 236,000.

Government job employment during October was 223,400, up compared to the 222,600 during September and ahead of the 221,500 during October 2011.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during October 172,600 jobs, up from the 172,600 during September and up from 167,700 during October 2011. Employment in the sector is up almost 29% compared to January 2002.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 104,900 during October, above the 103,400 during September and ahead of the 99,300 during October 2011.

The construction sector employed an estimated 42,800 during October, below the 44,100 during September and below the 46,700 during October 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 21% from January 2002.

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NATIONAL, REGIONAL DATA
The BLS figures show that 42 states had jobless rate decreases in October compared to October 2011 and eight states saw rate increases. The U.S. jobless rate during October was 7.9%, up from 7.8% in September and below 8.9% during October 2011.

The highest jobless rate was 11.5% in Nevada, and the lowest rate was 3.1% in North Dakota.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 5.3% in October, up from 5.2% in September and below the 6.3% during October 2011. The jobless rate in Missouri during October was 6.9%, unchanged from September and below the 8.3% during October 2011.

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