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Arkansas’ November jobless rate falls to 7%

An across the board decline in the size of the workforce, the number of employed and the number of unemployed served to push Arkansas’ November jobless rate to 7% – the lowest rate since January 2009.

November marked the 46th consecutive month Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%. The November jobless rate in Arkansas of 7% was lower than the 7.2% in October, and well below the 7.9% in November 2011.

Employed Arkansans were an estimated 1.267 million in November, down an 6,305 jobs  compared to November 2011, according to the Friday (Dec. 21) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS estimate shows 2,359 fewer Arkansans were unemployed in November than October, with the number of unemployed at 95,935 also lower than the 108,170 in November 2011.

The workforce size shrank from an estimated 1.372 million in October to 1.363 million in November. The workforce totaled 1.375 million in November 2011.

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

“Decreases in the number of employed and unemployed caused a decline in the size of the civilian labor force, which led to a drop in the rate this month,” Kimberly Friedman, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, said in a statement. “Arkansas’ unemployment rate has trended downward so far this year, ranging from a high of 7.6 percent in January and February to a low of 7.0 percent in November.”

ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS
In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during November was an estimated 239,700, above the 237,100 during October and ahead of the 232,000 during November 2011. Peak employment in the sector was 240,400 during January 2009.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during November totaled 157,000, ahead of the 155,400 in October and up 1,200 jobs compared to November 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 33% below the January 2001 sector employment of 236,000.

Government job employment during November was 223,300, unchanged from October and ahead of the 221,400 during November 2011.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during November 172,200 jobs, down from the 172,300 during October and up from 169,400 during November 2011. Employment in the sector is up almost 29% compared to January 2002.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,900 during November, down from the 104,700 during October and ahead of the 100,000 during November 2011. The sector reached a record 104,900 jobs during April.

The construction sector employed an estimated 43,200 during November, up slightly from the 43,000 during October and below the 46,600 during November 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 20% from January 2002.

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NATIONAL, REGIONAL DATA
The BLS figures show that 43 states had jobless rate decreases in November compared to November 2011 and six states saw rate increases. The U.S. jobless rate during November was 7.7%, below 8.7% during November 2011.

The highest jobless rate was 10.8% in Nevada, and the lowest rate was 3.1% in North Dakota.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 5.2% in November, down from 5.3% in October and below the 6.3% during November 2011. The jobless rate in Missouri during November was 6.7%, down from 6.9% in October and below the 8.1% during November 2011.

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