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story.lead_photo.caption Graph showing Arkansas and U.S. joblessness rates - Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / SOURCE: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas' unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.7 percent in November, in part because of a shrinking workforce, the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported Friday.

The U.S joblessness rate stands at 4.1 percent, unchanged from October, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of of Labor Statistics.

Arkansas' civilian labor force was 1,372,006 in November, down 6,248 from October but up 33,267 from November 2016. Arkansas' unemployment rate for November 2016 was 4 percent.

The number of unemployed for November was 50,127, up 536 when compared with October but down 3,041 when compared with November 2016.

Nonfarm payroll jobs in Arkansas fell by 1,800 to 1,263,000 for November when compared with October. Nonfarm jobs were up 21,00 when compared with November last year.

Mervin Jebaraj, interim director of a business research center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said that while there was a slight increase in the unemployment rate for November, the rate is historically still quite low and seems to be tapering off from employment gains seen earlier in the year. Jebaraj becomes the center's director at the first of the year.

He said that while the state's labor force declined in October and November, it has been increasing during the year so overall the state's unemployment situation is still solid.

Three industry sectors saw declines in Arkansas for November when compared to October, while six saw increases and two remained unchanged.

The leisure and hospitality sector saw the largest drop in jobs at 3,800, with most of those losses, 2,800, linked to staff cutting and closures of full-service restaurants. Construction jobs declined by 1,000, with the drop attributed to expected seasonal declines.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 2,100 jobs in November with the largest gain, 2,000, coming from holiday retail hiring. The mining and lodging, manufacturing, financial activities, education and health services, and government all saw job increases. The professional and business services and information sectors were flat.

Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said the November report was disappointing, with the household and payroll reports down for the period. He noted that the number of employed in Arkansas dropped by more than 9,000 when November and October were combined.

He said payroll employment in the state is up significantly over the long term with increases in most. Over the course of the year, he said, payroll and household reports showed rapid growth during the first part of the year with some weakening into late summer and the fall.

Nationally, unemployment rates for November were down in eight states, higher in two states and flat in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

Hawaii had the lowest unemployment at 2 percent. Arkansas ranked 20th and tied with Indiana and Virginia.

Business on 12/23/2017

Print Headline: Labor force ebb lifts state jobless rate

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