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Unemployment rate in state stays at 4.4%

by Andrew Moreau | May 22, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.

Statewide unemployment remains steady at 4.4%, unchanged from March to April.

The Department of Workforce Services announced Friday that the number of unemployed in Arkansas has declined by 77,978 over the past year while employment is up 68,488 and the unemployment rate has declined from a peak of 10% in April 2020.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement highlighting the improvement.

“Our stable unemployment rate assures me that we are steadily moving in the right direction after more than a year of covid-19,” the governor said. “Before the pandemic, our economy was strong. We’ve encountered many challenges over the past 15 months, but we have persevered and fought our way back from the 10% rate a year ago.”

The U.S. unemployment rate went from 6% in March to 6.1% in April.

“Compared to April 2020 when covid-related job losses peaked, the number of unemployed in Arkansas has declined 77,978,” said Susan Price in the state news release. “Employment is up 68,488 and the unemployment rate is down significantly from the peak of 10.0 percent last April.”

Nonfarm payroll jobs in Arkansas are up by 94.6% from a year ago. Nine major industry sectors posted gains, including:

• Leisure and hospitality was up by 34,700, mostly in food services – 27,400.

• Trade and transportation added 16,100 jobs; with retail trade adding 14,200.

• Professional and business services increased by 14,800.

• Durable goods in manufacturing added 10,900.

• Government had the largest annual decline, down by 1,200 jobs.

Commerce Secretary Mike Preston also praised the report.

“Many Arkansas businesses took hard hits during the pandemic,” said Preston. “This is especially true for our restaurants, hotels, bars, and event venues, which had to reduce operations significantly and, in some cases, close their doors completely. That said, it is encouraging to see that this month’s employment gains were led by the leisure and hospitality industry, adding 3,800 jobs over the last month, up 34,700 compared to April 2020.”

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