Arkansas unemployment rate drops to 3.6%

As the year closed, there were more Arkansans with jobs than in 2021 and the state’s labor force participation rate was up three-tenths of percentage point from year to year, with the labor force up 21,372 from December 2021. Unemployment was 3.3% in December 2021.

Overall concerns about inflation and the potential for a recession do not seem to be weighing down employment in Arkansas, according to Michael Pakko, chief state economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Unemployment had been ticking slightly up over the past few months before reversing from 3.7% in November to 3.6% last month.

“The weakness is not getting any worse and maybe there’s even a little bit of improvement,” Pakko said. “There wasn’t anything phenomenal other than a little bit of evidence against a weakening trend.”

Rising interest rates, pressure from inflation and the looming threat of a recession led to some expectation that unemployment would continue to increase. “Most economists were expecting to see a market slowdown, but we’re starting from a very strong position,” Pakko said. “Perhaps economists were being too pessimistic about the job outlook.”

See the full article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.