State unemployment rate declines slightly to 7.3 percent


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.3 percent in January, according to labor statistics released Monday.

The state’s jobless rate in January was higher than the national jobless rate of 6.6 percent, which was also down one-tenth of a percent from December. Arkansas’ unemployment rate was lower than the state’s January 2103 rate of 7.5 percent, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.

The agency said 1.2 million Arkansas were employed in January and 96,800 were unemployed.

“Employment in Arkansas rose 2,400 in January 2014 and is up slightly compared to January 2013. This is the fifth consecutive month that Arkansas has posted employment gains,” said DWS spokeswoman Becky Heflin.

Nine major industry sectors posted decreases for the month and two posted increases.

The biggest decrease in January was in trade, transportation and utilities, with 6,200 jobs lost, some 5,400 of them in retail trade and attributed to the typical decline at the end of the holiday shopping season.

Jobs in government dropped by 6,100 in January, with 4,300 jobs lost in state government and 1,600 in local government, reflecting the holiday break at public schools and universities.

Leisure and hospitality added 100 jobs and other services added 600 jobs.