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Arkansas jobless rate held steady at 3.2% in May

Jacqueline Froelich
People lined up to apply for unemployment assistance in 2020 at an Arkansas Division of Workforce Services office in Fayetteville.

Arkansas’ jobless rate remained at 3.2% in May, which was lower than the 4.4% in the same month last year. The state posted year-over-year job gains of 2.7%, with the labor force up 1.45% and the tourism sector continuing to rebound.

The number of employed in Arkansas during May was an estimated 1,309,327, up 34,671 jobs, or 2.7%, compared with May 2021, and above the 1,306,960 in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Friday. The May numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ labor force, the number of people eligible to work, in May was 1,352,098 in May, above the 1,332,758 in May 2021, and above the 1,349,553 in April. The state’s labor force participation rate was 56.9% in May, above the 56.6% in May 2021.

Arkansans without jobs in May totaled 42,771, above the 42,593 in April, but below the 58,102 in May 2021. The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Trade, Transportation & Utilities (12,000 more jobs), and Leisure & Hospitality (up 7,800 jobs).

National numbers

Unemployment rates were lower in May in 16 states and stable in 34 states, according to the BLS report. All 50 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6%, well below the 5.8% in may 2021.

Nebraska had the lowest jobless rate in May at 1.9%. The next lowest rates were in Minnesota and Utah at 2% each. The rate in Minnesota set a new series low, as did the rates in the following eight states (all state series begin in 1976): Alabama (2.7%), Alaska (4.7%), Georgia (3%), Idaho (2.5%), Kansas (2.3%), Kentucky (3.8%), Mississippi (4%), and West Virginia (3.5%). The District of Columbia had the highest unemployment rate at 5.7%, followed by New Mexico at 5.1%. In total, 18 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.6%, 9 states and the District had higher rates, and 23 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Job sector numbers

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
May 2022: 265,300
April 2022: 267,700
May 2021: 253,300
The April 2022 level marked a new record for the sector.

May 2022: 209,100
April 2022: 208,800
May 2021: 206,600
Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

Education and Health Services
May 2022: 194,800
April 2022: 197,200
May 2021: 195,000
The April 2022 level marked a new record for the sector.

May 2022: 162,800
April 2022: 162,700
May 2021: 156,500
Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted record employment of 247,600 in July 1995.

Professional and Business Services
May 2022: 149,400
April 2022: 147,600
May 2021: 145,200
Sector employment set a record of 152,600 in January 2022.

Leisure and Hospitality
May 2022: 121,100
April 2022: 121,700
May 2021: 113,300
The sector first reached an employment record of 124,400 in February 2020.

Financial Activities
May 2022: 67,500
April 2022: 66,600
May 2021: 65,900
The April 2022 level marked a new record for the sector.

May 2022: 53,300
April 2022: 53,500
May 2021: 55,300
The sector reached record employment of 57,700 in May 2006.