PB March unemployment continues downward trend

The March unemployment rate for Pine Bluff declined for the second consecutive month in March but remained the second highest in the state, according to data released Tuesday by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

Pine Bluff recorded an 11.2 percent March unemployment rate, which is down from 11.9 percent in February and 12.6 percent in January.

The lowest rate in Arkansas for March was 5 percent — recorded in both Bentonville and Springdale. West Memphis ranked as the city with the highest unemployment rate at 11.4 percent.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said the numbers are a positive step forward and was hopeful additional jobs will be added soon.

“Last month I was thrilled to meet with representatives of a company that is looking at Pine Bluff. We are on their short, short list. I also met with representatives of a company today and we are expecting them to make an announcement in the next 30 to 60 days,” Hollingsworth said, but declined to reveal more details about the companies.

The unemployment rate for Jefferson County also fell for the second consecutive month in March to 9.7 percent, down from 10.4 percent in February and 11.1 percent in January.

The lowest March unemployment rate in Arkansas was Benton County at 5.2 percent and the highest was Lee County at 11.3 percent.

The state unemployment rate for March was 6.9 percent, while the February rate was 7.1 percent and the January rate was 7.3 percent.

“Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped below 7 percent in March for the first time since January 2009,” said ADWS Communications Director Becky Heflin in a press release. “This is the sixth consecutive month that Arkansas’ jobless rate has declined.”