BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Arkansas unemployment rate has again dipped into record numbers for the fourth straight month. Locally, Polk County has also experienced a decline in recent months. Governor Asa Hutchinson is well pleased with the numbers and said it “tells us that we are on the right track in terms of implementing conservative policies that spur job creation and put Arkansans to work.”
He continued, “Our unemployment rate is even more impressive when you consider that the number of employees on the government payroll is shrinking, while private sector employment and the labor force participation rate continue to climb.”
For the month of April, the state rate fell to 3.5%, another full percentage point drop from the previous month, holding to the previous trend. In addition, the state added 11,000 jobs in April, and the labor force participation increased from the previous month.
“In fact, there are now 70,200 more Arkansans employed than when I first took office in 2015. Arkansans want to work. As Governor, I will continue to pursue policies that increase opportunities for Arkansans to work and raise the quality of life in our state,” he added.
In total, for the month of April 2017, the civilian labor force in Arkansas has 1,347,934 workers. Of those, 1,300,237 are employed with only 47,697 unemployed across the state. Compared with April 2016, there are more than 6,800 fewer unemployed this year, causing a 0.6% decrease in unemployment rates from year-to-year totals. This year began with a 3.8% unemployment rate and has incurred a 1% decrease each month since.
In Polk County, the March 2017 rate (the latest data available) was 4.9%, falling 0.7% from February 2017. That is a 1.5 point difference between the state and county rate. In total, the 4.9% rate that Polk County currently sits at, represents 384 unemployed persons. In March, the county’s civilian labor force (those considered working capable citizens), was 7,857, with 7,473 of those being employed.
Comparing data from the last several years, shows a trend where the county’s rates increase during winter and summer and decrease during spring and fall, which could be attributed to the seasonality of one of the area’s main economic generators – the logging industry. Seasonal employment is sometimes as factor as well. The fluctuation in the aforementioned trend is usually around a percentage point and equals less than 100 people.