The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services released labor figures this morning that show the state’s unemployment rate now stands at 6.2 percent. In July 2013, the Arkansas unemployment rate was 7.7 percent. The current national figure is also 6.2 percent, whereas a year ago the US unemployment rate was 7.3 percent. All figures are seasonally-adjusted.
Another way to put it: the rates for both the US and Arkansas have both declined over the past year, but unemployment in Arkansas has declined more steeply than the country as a whole. Arkansas is now on par with the national rate. We’re also close to the middle of the pack, statewise. Here’s the summary from DWS, which also shows changes over the past month.
These numbers should be taken with the usual caveats The unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story. Crucially, it doesn’t account for people who have left the labor force — those who have stopped actively seeking work, for whatever reason. DWS says that the Arkansas labor force has declined by 26,800 since July 2103. (The scenarios for dropping out of the labor force are numerous: people retire, go back to school, get on disability, start businesses, move into their parents’ basement to be depressed and sleep all day, etc.) The agency’s report also says, however, that “since July 2013, nonfarm payroll jobs in Arkansas are up 17,000.”
More jobs + a smaller pool of slack labor = lower unemployment.
Whether you emphasize the former or the latter factor depends on whether you’re looking to paint the Obama administration’s economic policy as good or bad. It should be clear, though, that the Obamacare-fueled jobs apocalypse has yet to materialize either in Arkansas or the country at large.