Arkansas' jobless rate reaches highest level in 24 years

Arkansas News Bureau - LITTLE ROCK — A three-tenths of one percentage point rise in unemployment in June pushed Arkansas’ jobless rate to 8.1 percent, its highest level in 24 years, labor statistics released today show.

The state unemployment rate last reached 8.1 percent in June 1987. It last reached 8 percent in January and February of 2010.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate for June was 1.1 percentage points below the national rate of 9.2 percent, which was up one-tenth of a percentage point from May.

The highest unemployment rate on record in Arkansas is 10.1 percent, which was reached in May, June and July of 1983, Friedman said.

Michael Pakko, a Professor of economics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said the state has added about 27,000 jobs over the past 18 months, but with rapid growth in the labor force, those new jobs have only been enough to keep the state “pretty much stuck at around 8 percent unemployment, plus or minus a tick or two.”

Arkansas’ labor force declined by 8,500 in June. The department said 1.36 million were employed during the month and 109,300 were out of work.

The industry sector that posted the most job losses in June was government. State and local government jobs declined by 5,200, mainly related to summer break at public education facilities.

Manufacturing reported 400 lost jobs.

Nine other sectors posted employment gains, led by professional and business services with 2,100 new jobs added, the majority in administrative and support services, mainly at temporary employment agencies. Construction reported a seasonal increase of 1,600 jobs.

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