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story.lead_photo.caption Graphs and information about the Arkansas and U.S. joblessness rates.

Arkansas' unemployment held steady in May at 3.6%, according to U.S. Department of Labor data.

The state's labor force rose by 1,410, as a result of 2,543 more employed and 1,133 fewer unemployed for the period, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data published Friday by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

The national unemployment rate was also 3.6%, unchanged from April to May.

Looking at the day's numbers, Michael Pakko, chief economist at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said "it wasn't really outstanding in a positive or negative kind of way."

"It was more of a stay-the-course kind of report," he said.

From May 2018 to May 2019, Arkansas' unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point. Labor force numbers rose 11,897, as a result of 13,365 more employed and 1,468 fewer unemployed, year over year.

The state's nonfarm payroll jobs rose to 1,283,400 in May, a monthly increase of 3,900 jobs. A lot of the gains came from the trade, transportation and utilities sector, with over 2,400 of the total 2,900 jobs created in the retail trade subsector, mostly because of seasonal hiring. Leisure and hospitality and other services also saw significant job increases from April to May.

Compared with year-ago data, nonfarm payroll jobs rose by 14,300. Nine major industries posted gains, with six each adding 1,400 jobs or more. Most gains came from the trade, transportation and utilities sector, and manufacturing and construction industries, followed by leisure and hospitality, government, and education and health services. The information sector and mining and logging industries saw job declines, year over year.

Overall, Pakko said, "the payroll survey is lackluster ... nothing really spectacular happened."

"I noted last month that manufacturing comprised [25%] of all employment growth over the last year," he said. Its results, along with others for the month, were expected.

Greg Kaza, executive director of the Arkansas Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, was more upbeat about the data, placing Arkansas' numbers in context with the rest of the United States. He said the state's unemployment rate is "a reminder the national economy is on the verge of the longest economic expansion in U.S. history."

In July, the expansion will have lasted 10 years and a month, Kaza said, beating the previous record of 10 years from March 1991 to March 2001.

In the past decade, Arkansas has seen the creation of 112,300 jobs, resulting in a 9.7% job-creation rate, he said. This is higher than most of Arkansas' border states, including Missouri (8.16%), Oklahoma (8.15%), Mississippi (6.3%) and Louisiana (4.4%).

Texas (23.6%) and Tennessee (19.2%) are the exceptions, labor data from June 2009 to May 2019 show.

The unemployment rate is calculated from a survey of households. Payroll jobs data are gathered by a separate survey of businesses.

Business on 06/22/2019

Print Headline: State's jobless rate steady at 3.6%

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