Arkansas experienced a remarkable drop in its unemployment rate, reaching a record low of 2.6% in June, reflecting the national jobless rate’s trend (3.6%). This recent decline of 0.1 percentage point from May marks the lowest unemployment rate the state has seen in the last two decades, showcasing its robust economic recovery.
During the 2007 recession, Arkansas’ peak unemployment rate was 8%, while the height of the COVID-19 recession saw a rate of 10.1% in April 2020. The current national unemployment rate stands at 3.6% after a 0.1 percentage point decrease in June.
Comparing June 2023 with the previous year, the number of employed Arkansans has increased by 21,415, while the number of unemployed individuals dropped by 8,562, resulting in a 0.6 percentage point decline in the state’s unemployment rate.
Key contributors to the positive employment growth were the healthcare and social assistance sector (2.9%), construction (1.9%), arts, entertainment, and recreation (1.6%), and durable goods manufacturing (1.1%).
Arkansas Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald attributed the improved labor force participation rate (57.6%) to more people reentering the workforce rather than specific state policies.
“It was stuck at 57.4% for six months,” said McDonald. “I don’t see it as a result of state policy, just more people going back to work. That’s positive,” he added.
McDonald also highlighted the strength seen in various industries across the state, such as planned steel plants and potential lithium extraction in southern Arkansas.
However, Arkansas jobless rate is lower than most of its neighboring states: 3.6% in Louisiana, 3.1% in Mississippi, 2.7% in Oklahoma, 3.2% in Tennessee and 4.1% in Texas. Missouri’s rate is also 2.6%.