PB jobless rate increased in October

The Pine Bluff unemployment rate moved up to 10 percent in October compared to 9.6 percent in September but still below the August rate of 10.4 percent, according Arkansas Department of Workforce Services data.

The October rate of 10 percent is down substantially from the October 2011 unemployment rate of 11.4 percent.

The Jefferson County October rate of 8.8 percent was up from September’s 8.5 percent reading but down from the August rate of 9 percent.

Jefferson County logged an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent for October 2011.

Chris Hart, chairman of the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was hopeful that the Christmas season will begin to turn around things in the area.

“It’s disappointing to lose any ground that we gained, but we are still optimistic that a successful holiday shopping season will help us to springboard into a successful 2013,” Hart said.

Hart, who is also vice president for personnel and community relations with Central Moloney Inc., said that his company was doing as well as could be expected.

“Our component business is strong,” Hart said. “Depending upon what happens in the housing market, we will see what develops. We are holding our own in the transformer market. We’re like so many people who have held their own in that we have learned how to operate in less-than-ideal conditions.”

State figures

The statewide October unemployment rate was reported at 7.2 percent, which was a slight increase over the September rate of 7.1 percent.

The national jobless rate also increased slightly to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September.

“Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose slightly this month, as employment declined by 4,700,” ADWS Communications Director Kimberly Friedman said in a press release. “There are still 10,300 more employed and 11,000 fewer unemployed Arkansans than in October 2011.”

The jurisdiction with the highest unemployment rate in Arkansas for October was West Memphis with a reading of 10.6 percent, with Pine Bluff ranking second highest. There was a three-way tie for the lowest October rate with Bentonville, Sherwood and Springdale all coming in at 4.7 percent.