UPDATE: Arkansas’ Unemployment Rate Spikes to 7.6 Percent

Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in October — its highest rate in 21 years — compared with 7.1 percent in September. That compares with the U.S. jobless rate of 10.2 percent. The Arkansas unemployment rate in October 2008 stood at 5.4 percent, for a year-over-year increase of 2.2 percentage points.

The number of unemployed Arkansans reached 103,900 in October. That, however, remains below the high of 105,300 unemployed in February 1983, the state Department of Workforce Services said in a news release.

“The increase in Arkansas’ unemployment rate mirrors the change seen on the national level,” said Kimberly Friedman, department spokesman. “The recession is still having affects here in Arkansas, as we continue to see layoffs and closures around the state. The last time Arkansas’ unemployment rate reached 7.6 percent was in September 1988. Our rate is still significantly lower than the record-high jobless rate of 10.2 percent that occurred in 1983.”

To view a PDF of the news release, with further details, click here.

The greatest number of job losses – 1,600 – occurred in trade, transportation and utilities. Transportation, warehousing and utilities experienced a seasonal decline.

Government posted the largest gain, up 2,800. Most of the growth occurred in local government, with hiring by public schools for the school year.

Since October 2008, nonfarm payroll jobs in Arkansas have decreased 28,700. During that time, employment dropped in eight major industry sectors, while three posted growth.

Following are some details taken from the news release comparing employment in October 2008 with October 2009:

  • Manufacturing lost 18,500 jobs. The greatest loss occurred in durable goods manufacturing, which accounted for more than three-fourths of the decline.
  • Employment in trade, transportation and utilities fell 14,100. While all subsectors decreased due to economic conditions, transportation-warehousing-utilities and retail trade were affected the most.
  • Construction experienced a loss of 5,200 jobs. The majority of the decline was attributed to the condition of the housing and commercial construction markets.
  • Educational and health services posted growth, adding 9,800 jobs. Roughly 80 percent of the gain occurred in health care and social assistance.
  • Employment in government rose 5,100. A majority of the new positions were added in local government, particularly in public school districts.







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