Arkansas’ May unemployment steady at 3.2%

Arkansas officials reported Friday that May’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.2%, following a national trend of standing firm from April. At 3.6%, the overall U.S. jobless rate also was stable between April and May.

The state’s labor force continued to grow in May, adding 2,545 Arkansans looking for jobs. The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services reported Friday that there were 2,367 more employed Arkansans last month and 178 additional unemployed.

“There’s not a whole lot of action going on with the unemployment side of things,” Michael Pakko, chief economist for the state at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute, said Friday. “We’re kind of stuck at very low levels and we’re seeing the slow ramping up of participation in the labor force on that side of the ledger.”

Heading into the back half of the year, rising interest rates hold the biggest concern for unemployment, which has held steady at below 3.5% since September. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates .75% this week and forecasters are predicting a similar increase again in July. Higher interest rates are a tool to tame inflation by slowing consumer demand, which in turn could dampen production and reduce jobs.

Of the major economic sector, only educational and health services recorded a year-over-year loss, falling by 400 jobs.

Read the full article from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.