Arkansas’ February jobless rate falls to 4.5%, but job numbers decline

Arkansas’ jobless rate in February was 4.5%, down from 4.6% in January and below the 3.8% in February 2020. The slight decline in Arkansas’ jobless rate in February was the result of fewer in the workforce and not a gain in jobs.

The number of employed in Arkansas during February was an estimated 1,301,585, down 18,332 jobs compared with February 2019, according to Friday’s (March 26) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The biggest sector losses were in Leisure & Hospitality (13,700 fewer jobs), Government (down 8,200 jobs) and Education and Health Services (down 7,500 jobs). The Construction sector posted a year-over-year job gain of 900 jobs. The February numbers are preliminary and subject to revision. The report marked the 11th full month of COVID-19 impacts on the economy.

The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,363,154 in February, down compared with the 1,371,944 in February 2020, and below the 1,375,929 in January. Arkansans without jobs in February totaled 61,569, up 18.3% from the 52,027 in February 2020 but below the 63,524 unemployed in January.

According to BLS, 45 states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier and five states had little or no change. Hawaii and New York had the highest unemployment rates in February at 9.2% and 8.9%, respectively, while South Dakota at 2.9%, and Utah at 3%, had the lowest rates. In total, 27 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 6.2%, 12 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 11 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

JOB SECTOR NUMBERS
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 252,300 in February, down from 252,700 in January and down from the 252,500 in February 2020. The sector reached record employment of 253,700 in January 2020.

The Government sector employed 205,200 in February, down from the 205,300 in January and below the 213,400 in February 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 187,800 in February, up from 187,500 in January and below the 195,300 in February 2020. February 2020 set a record for sector employment at 195,300.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 157,300 jobs, down from 157,400 in January and down from the 160,800 jobs in February 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 90,300 jobs – down 36.4% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in July 1995.

Professional and Business Services employed 143,100 in February, down from 143,300 in January and down from 145,100 February 2020. The sector reached record employment of 147,100 in January 2020.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 109,200 jobs in February, down from 111,400 in January and well below the the 122,900 in February 2020. The sector first reached an employment record of 122,900 in December 2019.

The Financial Activities sector had 63,700 jobs in February, down from 63,900 in January and down from the 64,200 in February 2020. The sector first hit record employment of 64,300 in February 2020.

The Construction sector had 54,300 jobs in February, down from 55,200 in January and up from the 53,400 in February 2020. The sector reached record employment of 54,700 in November 2020.

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