Arkansas Unemployment Rises to 7.7 Percent In December

Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose to 7.7 percent in December from 7.4 percent in November, according to a report Friday by the state Department of Workforce Services.

In a news release, the department said the state’s civilian labor force declined by 7,100 in December.

“Arkansas businesses hired fewer additional workers during the 2009 holiday season,” Kimberly Friedman, the department’s communications director, said in a news release. “This decrease in hiring, as compared to previous historical trends, partly contributed to the increase in our seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. The number of unemployed Arkansans reached a record high level of 105,400.”

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in December 2008 was 5.7 percent, with 77,700 people out of work.

Year over year, the state’s manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; and constructions sectors saw declines. Government, along with educational and health services, posted gains.

Manufacturing saw the biggest year-over-year drop, down 14,100 jobs. The downturn in the housing and commercial markets caused a loss of 5,000 construction jobs.

Educational and health services saw the biggest gain, up 10,000 jobs. Government saw moderate annual growth, adding 4,800 jobs.

The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 10 percent. will update this story.

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