February unemployment down for month, but highest in state

The unemployment rate in Pine Bluff was 11.8 percent in February, which was a decrease from January but the highest unemployment rate compared to other cities in the state.

January’s rate was 12.2 percent and December’s was 10.7 percent. Compared to the previous year, the unemployment rate was down slightly compared to 12 percent in February 2012.

Among other cities in the state, Bentonville had the lowest unemployment rate in February at 5 percent. Pine Bluff had the highest rate, but West Memphis was close behind at 11.7 percent. In January, West Memphis had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 13 percent.

Jefferson County’s unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in February, also marking a decline from 10.9 percent in January but an increase from 9.5 percent in December.

The Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area — which includes Jefferson, Cleveland and Lincoln counties — unemployment rate was 10.1 percent in February, 10.5 percent in January and 9 percent in December.

None of the city- and county-level unemployment rate figures were adjusted for the typical seasonal changes in the workforce.

At the state level, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained the same in February and January at 7.2 percent.

“While Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained steady this month, the rate is still one-tenth of a percentage point lower than it was in February 2012,” said Kimberly Friedman, Department of of Workforce Services spokeswoman, in a press release. “The rate is significantly lower than February 2011, when the rate was 8 percent.”