Arkansas’ January jobless rate falls to 4.6% from revised 4.9% in December

As expected, January’s jobless report includes major revisions, which includes changing December’s jobless rate from the initial 4.2% to 4.9%, with almost 10,000 more unemployed in December than originally estimated.

Arkansas employers added just 275 jobs between December and January, but the state’s jobless rate fell from a revised 4.9% in December to 4.6% in January, according to Monday’s (March 15) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The number of employed in Arkansas during January was an estimated 1,312,417, down 9,742 jobs compared with January 2020. The biggest year-over-year sector gainers were Construction with 1,500 more jobs and Trade, Transportation & Utilities with 600 more jobs. The biggest sector losses were in Leisure & Hospitality (11,200 fewer jobs), Government (down 8,000 jobs) and Education and Health Services (down 7,000 jobs).

The January numbers are preliminary and subject to revision. The report marked the 10th full month of COVID-19 impacts on the economy. Revisions in the report also included 137,367 jobs lost in April 2020, down from the initial estimate of 140,898.

“The annual revision of Arkansas’ civilian labor force data shows that the impact of COVID on employment was not as large as originally estimated. Employment was revised up for every month of 2020. Based on updated information, Arkansas’ unemployment rate peaked at 10.0 percent in April 2020 instead of the 10.8 percent originally calculated,” BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price noted in a statement.

The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,375,953 in January, up compared with the 1,372,291 in January 2020, but below the 1,379,313 in December.

Arkansans without jobs in January totaled 63,536, up 26.7% from the 50,132 in January 2020 but below the 67,171 unemployed in December. The December unemployed number was 57,284 before the revision.

The BLS report noted that 48 states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier and two states had little or no change. Hawaii and California had the highest unemployment rates in January at 10.2% and 9%, respectively. South Dakota and Utah had the lowest rates at 3.1% each.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 253,700 in January, unchanged from December and up from the 253,100 in January 2020. The January employment set a new record for the sector. The January and December jobs mark a record for the sector.

The Government sector employed 205,3000 in January, above the 205,200 in December and below the 213,300 in January 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 187,400 in January, down from 187,900 in December and below the 194,400 in January 2020. February 2020 set a record for sector employment at 195,300.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 157,400 jobs, up from 156,700 in December and down from the 160,800 jobs in January 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 90,200 jobs – down 36.4% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in July 1995.

Professional and Business Services employed 143,200 in January, up from 142,500 in December and down from 147,100 January 2020. The January 2020 level was a record high for the sector.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 111,300 jobs in January, down from 111,600 in December and well below the the 122,500 in January 2020. The sector first reached an employment record of 122,900 in December 2019.

The Financial Activities sector had 64,000 jobs in January, up from 63,600 in December and down from the 64,200 in January 2020. The sector first hit record employment of 64,300 in February 2020.

The Construction sector had 55,300 jobs in January, up from 54,400 in December and up from the 53,800 in January 2020. January employment was a record for the sector.