Arkansas Unemployment Rises to 4.8% in March

Arkansas' unemployment rate rose one and three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8% last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released Friday by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services.

The report showed 18,526 more unemployed and 513 more employed Arkansans.

During the same February-to-March period, the U.S. jobless rate rose nine-tenths of a percentage point, to 4.4% from 3.5%.

"Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, changes were made to the models that calculate employment and unemployment across the country," BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price said in a news release. "The increase in the number of unemployed Arkansans is, in large part, a reflection of the number of unemployment insurance claims filed during the week of March 12th. The small gain in employment is based largely on a monthly survey of Arkansas households, which was significantly impacted by the outbreak." 

More: Click here to see the full report.

The division said the report broadly reflects the effects of the pandemic. The business and household surveys used to compile the state's unemployment report reference the week of March 12, which was before the coronavirus had closed businesses and schools. Also, because of the closures, fewer businesses responded to the surveys. 

People who were paid any amount by their employer for a pay period that included March 12 were counted as employed, even if they were not actually at their job. People who were laid off or furloughed were counted as unemployed. 

Compared to March 2019, Arkansas' nonfarm payroll jobs are down by 5,700. Seven major industry sectors posted declines, while another five added jobs.

  • Employment in manufacturing decreased by 4,700.
  • Jobs in leisure and hospitality are down by 4,300.
  • Professional and business services added 2,700  jobs.
  • Construction gained 1,700 jobs.
  • Government employment declined by 1,400.
  • Educational and Health services added 1,300 jobs.
  • Trade, transportation and utilities employment increased by 1,100.
  • Employment in financial activities and in other services decreased by 700 jobs each.
  • Information lost 500 jobs.
  • Mining and logging lost 200 jobs.