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Number of employed, unemployed fall in January

The good news about Arkansas’ January jobless picture is that the number of unemployed is down 5.17% compared to January 2012. The bad news is that the number of employed in January is down 1.4% compared to January 2012.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in January was 7.2%, up slightly from 7.1% in December, and below the 7.4% in January 2012.

January marks four consecutive years – 48 consecutive months – that Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%. January also continued a trend in which the jobless rate improves but declines in the size of the workforce and number of employed point to ongoing weakness in Arkansas’ economy.

Employed Arkansans were an estimated 1.247 million in January, down 17,889 jobs, or 1.41%, compared to January 2012, according to the Monday (Mar. 18) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS estimate shows 5,264 fewer Arkansans were unemployed in January than January 2012. The number of unemployed in January fell to 96,492, up from 95,732 in December, but well below the 101,756.

The workforce size shrank from an estimated 1.347 million in December to 1.344 million in January. The workforce totaled 1.367 million in January 2012. December was the first time Arkansas’ workforce size fell below 1.36 million since September 2010.

“Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose slightly in January, related in large part to the decline in employment. The rate increase was not unexpected and mirrors the trend seen at the national level,” DWS Communications Director Kimberly Friedman said in a statement.

Arkansas’ annual average jobless rate fell from 7.9% during 2011 to 7.3% during 2012.

ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS
In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during January was an estimated 249,600, above the the 248,400 during December and ahead of the 240,900 during January 2012. Peak employment in the sector was 250,400 during December 2007.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during January totaled 156,300, up from the 155,000 in December and down an estimated 500 jobs compared to January 2012. Employment in the once booming manufacturing sector fell in 2012 to levels not seen since early 1968. The January jobs figure is more than 25% below the January 2003 sector employment of 210,300. Peak employment in the sector was 247,300 in February 1995.

Government job employment during January was 214,400, down from 216,200 in December and below the 215,900 during January 2012.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during January had 173,500 jobs, up from the 173,000 during December and up from 171,100 during January 2012. Employment in the sector is up more than 25% compared to January 2003.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,700 during January, down from the 102,900 during December and ahead of the 102,000 during January 2012. The January jobs estimate marks a new employment high in the sector. The previous high was 103,400 jobs during October 2012.

The construction sector employed an estimated 43,700 during January, down from the 46,000 during December and below the 48,800 during January 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 16% from January 2003.

NATIONAL, REGIONAL DATA
The BLS figures show that 40 states had jobless rate decreases in January compared to January 2012 and seven states saw rate increases, and three states had no change. The U.S. jobless rate during January was 7.9%, below 8.3% during January 2012. The U.S. jobless rate in February was 7.7%, down from 8.3% in February 2012.

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The highest jobless rate was 9.8% in California and Rhode Island, and the lowest rate was 3.3% in North Dakota.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 5.1% in January, down from 5.2% in December and below the 6.3% during January 2011. The jobless rate in Missouri during January was 6.7%, unchanged from December and below the 8% during January 2011.

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