State’s jobless rate falls to 3.2% in February while U.S. tally rises

Unemployment in Arkansas dropped in February to 3.2%, besting the national rate and inching toward record lows set a year ago. The state’s joblessness rate was down from 3.4% in January, state officials reported Friday.

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services reported there were 3,051 more Arkansans employed in February compared with January, with 2,964 fewer being unemployed. Arkansas’ labor force ticked up by 87 workers, leaving the labor force participation rate stable at 57.4% from January to February.

In the United States, the February unemployment rate rose to 3.6% from the 3.4% recorded in January, according to the Labor Department.

Arkansas’ labor markets remain robust and have steadily improved since October, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute. The state reported record unemployment lows of 3.1% in March and April last year. Unemployment was at 3.2% in February 2022.

The dip in the number of unemployed Arkansans in February was a decrease of more than 4,000 since October, Pakko noted.

The 3,051 added workers in the state marked the fifth consecutive month of growth. “It’s moving in the right direction for employment and unemployment,” Arkansas Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald said Friday.

Compared with February 2020, the state has added 62,100 jobs, up 4.7%, according to data on Pakko’s blog. U.S. employment in February was up only 2% compared with three years ago.

On the national level, Arkansas was one of 17 states that recorded lower unemployment rates than the U.S. average in February.

Read the full article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.