State jobless rate decreases to 4%

Arkansas appears to be returning to full-employment status with Friday’s report that the statewide unemployment rate dipped to 4%, the lowest since the pandemic began ripping apart the global economy in March 2020.

“The economy continues to expand in Arkansas with the unemployment rate dropping to 4.0%,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement Friday. “We continue to be lower than the national unemployment rate, and it is even better news that more people are returning to the workforce.

“Job training is available for any who wish to improve their marketable skills, and I expect job creation to continue in the state because of our skilled workforce and the population growth that we are currently experiencing.”

State officials reported Friday that Arkansas’ civilian labor force increased 594, a result of 3,561 more employed and 2,967 fewer unemployed Arkansans.

Arkansas hit the trifecta: boosting the labor force, increasing employment and decreasing the number of unemployed, according to state economist Michael Pakko.

“This report was a definite improvement over what we’ve been seeing over the past two or three months,” said Pakko of the Arkansas Economic Development Institute. “Everything is moving in the right direction. It’s a rare case where a decline from 4.2% to 4% was considered statistically significant. There was an actual measurable improvement in the unemployment rate in September.”

Economists generally consider 4% the threshold to qualify for full-employment status, according to Pakko. “There’s nothing magical about that number but it tends to be one of those significant thresholds that when you get to 4% you’re considered to be at full employment,” he said.

Full employment is used to describe an economy when gross domestic product is at peak potential and virtually all who are able and willing to work have jobs.

See the full article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.