Steady At 3.5%: Unemployment Rate Remains Exceptionally Low

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 17, 2020

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in January was unchanged from December, remaining at 3.5%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The monthly report, which was based on data from the federal agency and released Monday by the state Department of Workforce Services, put the number of nonfarm payroll jobs in January at 1,269,700, down 17,100. The December unemployment rate was revised from 3.6% to 3.5%.

“Steady at 3.5% is a fine reading,” Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, wrote on his website. “Unemployment remains exceptionally low. The underlying numbers looked good as well: The number of unemployed was down 120 and the number employed was up 2,155.

“The interesting news in the report was related to the annual benchmark revision of the nonfarm payroll employment data. Revised data for the past two years indicate that job growth was stronger than previously reported in 2018, but the revised data show nine months of a declining trend during 2019. Only in the last three months of the year did job growth move into positive territory compared to employment in December 2018.”

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