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Negative jobs trend continues for Arkansas’ economy

Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by The City Wire and presented by Fort Smith-based Benefit Bank. Other supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.5% in November, unchanged compared to October, but above the 7.2% in November 2012. Arkansas was one of just seven states to post a year-over-year jobless rate increase.

The report issued Friday (Dec. 20) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows the continuance of three negative economic trends for Arkansas: a decline in the size of the workforce, a decline in the number of employed, and an increase in the number of unemployed.

Arkansas’ labor force was an estimated 1.325 million in November, up slightly compared to October, but down 1.69% compared to November 20102. The year-over-year comparison shows almost 23,000 fewer in the Arkansas labor force.

The number of employed in Arkansas during November was 1.226 million, above October employment of 1.221 million, but down 2.02% compared to the 1.251 million in November 2012. The number of employed in Arkansas has dropped by 25,369 between November 2012 and November 2013.

The number of unemployed was an estimated 99,064 during November, down from the 99,760 in October, but up  2.67% compared to the 96,486 in November 2012.

Arkansas’ annual average jobless rate fell from 7.9% during 2011 to 7.3% during 2012. Also, November marked the 58th consecutive month that Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%.

ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS
In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during November was an estimated 252,300, down from 254,100 in October and well ahead of the 248,500 during November 2012.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during November totaled 154,700, down from the 155,100 in October and below the 155,200 in November 2012. Employment in the manufacturing sector fell in 2012 to levels not seen since early 1968. Peak employment in the sector was 247,300 in February 1995.

Government job employment during November was 215,200, up from 215,000 in October and below the 216,300 during November 2012.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during November had 176,600 jobs, up from the 176,200 during October and up from 173,300 during November 2012. Employment in the sector is up more than 25% compared to November 2003.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,600 during November, up from 103,000 during October, and above the 103,200 during November 2012. At a revised 103,700, January 2013 marked a new employment high in the sector.

NATIONAL DATA
The BLS report also noted that 42 states had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, 7 states had increases, and one state had no change. The national jobless rate during November was at 7%, and was down from the 7.8% in November 2012.

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Nevada and Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate among the states in November at 9%. The next highest rate was in Michigan with 8.8%, followed by Illinois at 8.7%. North Dakota again had the lowest jobless rate at 2.6%.

The November jobless rate in Oklahoma was 5.4%, down from 5.5% in October and up from 5.1% in November 2012.

Missouri’s jobless rate during November was 6.1%, down from 6.5% in October and down compared to 6.6% in November 2012.

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