Arkansas unemployment rate drops to 7.4 percent

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2009 11:44 AM

Arkansas' unemployment rate dipped slightly in November to 7.4 percent _ the result of fewer layoffs and a jump in retail jobs because of the start of the holiday shopping season, the state said Friday.

The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from October to November, which mirrored a national drop from 10.2 percent to 10 percent last month, the state Department of Workforce Services said.

The largest monthly employment gains came in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 3,000 jobs. Most of the increase was thanks to retail trade, which added 2,100 jobs for the holiday season, the agency said.

The leisure and hospitality sector lost 1,800 jobs, most of them seasonal positions with hotels and food services. Educational and health services lost 1,500 jobs last month, while professional and business services jobs dropped by 1,300, the agency said.

"The decline in Arkansas' unemployment rate reflects the decrease that occurred on the national level," said agency spokeswoman Kimberly Friedman. "Arkansas experienced fewer layoffs in November, which contributed to the decline in our rate."

Arkansas had 23,200 fewer jobs in November than it did 12 months ago, when the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent. The largest drop came in the manufacturing sector, which has lost 15,400 jobs in the past year, followed by trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 10,500 jobs.