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Arkansas’ jobless rate falls to 7.1% in February

An almost 5% decline in the estimated number of out-of-work Arkansans and a 0.59% increase in the number of Arkansans with jobs helped push the state’s February jobless rate to 7.1% compared to 7.5% in February 2013.

The February rate was also lower than the 7.3% in January, according to the report issued Friday (March 28) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, February marked 61 consecutive months – more than five years – that the state’s jobless rate has been at or above 7%.

Arkansas’ labor force was an estimated 1.33 million in February, up slightly compared to January, and up compared to 1.328 million in February 2013. The year-over-year comparison shows an estimated 2,372 more Arkansans in the labor force.

The number of employed in Arkansas during February was 1.236 million, above January employment of 1.231 million, and up an estimated 7,314 jobs compared to the 1.229 million in February 2013.

The number of unemployed was an estimated 94,059 during February, down from the 96,952 in January, and down 4.99% compared to the 99,001 in February 2013.

Arkansas’ annual average jobless rate fell from 7.9% during 2011 to a revised 7.5% during 2012. The initial annual average jobless rate for Arkansas during 2013 is 7.5%.

ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS
In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during February was an estimated 244,800, up from 243,600 in January and ahead of the 241,700 during February 2013. Employment in the sector hit a high of 251,800 in March 2007.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during February totaled 154,300, up compared to 153,600 in January and above the 153,800 in February 2013. Employment in the manufacturing sector fell in 2013 to levels not seen since early 1968. Peak employment in the sector was 247,300 in February 1995.

Government job employment during February was 215,600, up from 215,200 in January and below the 216,000 during February 2012.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during February had 173,800 jobs, up from the 173,300 during January and up from 171,600 during February 2013. Employment in the sector is up more than 23% compared to February 2004.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 109,000 during February, unchanged compared to 109,000 during January, and above the 104,400 during February 2013. The January and February employment levels set a new record for the sector. The number is subject to revision in future reports.

NATIONAL DATA
The BLS report also noted that 49 states had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, and one state had no change. The national jobless rate during February was at 6.7%, and was down from the 7.7% in February 2013.

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Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate among the states in February at 9%. The next highest rate was Illinois at 8.7% and Nevada at 8.5%. North Dakota again had the lowest jobless rate at 2.6%, followed by Nebraska at 3.6%.

The February jobless rate in Oklahoma was 5%, down compared to 5.2% to January and down from 5.3% in February 2013.

Missouri’s jobless rate during February was 6.4%, up from 6% in January and down compared to 6.7% in February 2013.

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