State employment drops to 7.1 percent in April


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment was 7.1 percent in April, down slightly from 7.2 percent in March, according to labor statistics released Friday.

The state jobless rate was 0.4 percentage points below the national rate, which dropped from 7.6 percent in March to 7.5 percent last month.

“Employment in Arkansas increased 1,700 in April, the first employment gain since April 2012, said Kimberly Friedman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Services. The increase, combined with the minor decline in unemployment, was enough to cause the rate to decrease to 7.1 percent.”

DWS reported that 1.33 million Arkansans were employed in April and 96,200 were unemployed.

Job increases were reported in eight major industry sectors, with the biggest increase, 4,400, in leisure and hospitality. The gains were largely seasonal, occurring mostly in accommodation and food services.

Retail trade added 3,100 new workers, an expected seasonal expansion. Trade, transportation and utilities added 2,900 jobs. State government jobs increased by 4,600, as public school employment returned to normal levels after the winter break.

Jobs in professional and business services rose by 2,100, with all additions occurring in administrative and support services, which includes activities such as landscaping services and travel agencies.

Minor decreases occurred in information, down 400, and mining and logging industries, down 100.