Arkansas' unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point, from 4.5% in February to 4.4% in March, the state Division of Workforce Services said Friday.
The report said Arkansas' civilian labor force decreased by 3,789, with 2,382 fewer employed and 1,407 fewer unemployed Arkansans.
At the same time, the U.S. jobless rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point, from 6.2% in February to 6.0% in March.
"Arkansas' unemployment rate continues to decline, down to 4.4% in March," BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price said in a news release. "Unemployment is now half a percentage point higher than in March 2020, when Arkansas' pre-pandemic unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent."
Compared to March 2020, Arkansas' nonfarm payroll job totals are down by 29,200. In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas must increase its workforce.
"The decline in the unemployment rate is another encouraging sign that we are emerging from the pandemic, and Arkansans have increasing opportunities to return to good-paying jobs," he said. "We do need to increase the numbers in the workforce, and the pandemic has reduced the number of Arkansans available to work. Hopefully, this is short term because hundreds of employers need workers each day."
The report showed declines in seven major industry sectors, while three sectors added jobs.
- Leisure and hospitality posted the largest loss, down by 12,000. Most of the decreases occurred in food services (8,500) and accommodation services (2,600).
- Employment in government is down by 9,000. Local government (6,400) and state government (2,100) posted much of the loss.
- Jobs in educational and health services declined by 6,100, all in health care and social assistance (6,100).
- Smaller decreases were reported in professional and business services (1,700), information (1,300), and trade-transportation-utilities (1,100).
- Jobs in manufacturing rose by 1,300. Expansions in durable goods (4,200) more than offset losses in nondurable goods (2,900).
- Construction jobs rose by 600.
- Financial activities rose by 400.