Magazine March 2019

Arkansas Employment: Labor Force Report


Arkansas beat the national unemployment average during the last month of 2018.

By Tyler Hale

Unemployment in Arkansas was lower than the national average in December 2018, the most recent month for which employment is available. Arkansas reported a seasonally adjusted average of 3.6 percent for its unemployment rate according to figures from Discover Arkansas, a website maintained by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Meanwhile, the national average in the same month was 3.9 percent according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In total, Arkansas reported having a total labor force of 1,350,399 individuals with 1,301,288 employed citizens. During December, there were only 49,111 individuals said to be unemployed. 

Northwest Arkansas had the three lowest unemployment rates in the state. Washington County boasted the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.5 percent. Madison County had the second lowest rate at 2.7 percent, and Benton County followed closely behind with a 2.8 percent unemployment rate.

Rounding out the top five lowest unemployment rates were Craighead County and Saline County. Both Craighead and Saline counties reported a 3 percent unemployment rate. 

Craighead County was an outlier among the top 10 counties with the lowest unemployment rates, having been the only county from the eastern side of the state to make the cut. The remaining counties were located in Central or Northwest Arkansas. (The one exception is Nevada County in southwestern Arkansas, which was also included in the top 10 lowest rates.)

On the opposite end of the unemployment spectrum, most of the counties with the highest levels of unemployment were located on the eastern side of the state. Of the top five counties with the highest levels of unemployment, only one county – Izard County – was not located on the eastern side of the state. 

Chicot County had the highest unemployment rate in the state with a 7.2 unemployment rate in December. The second highest unemployment rate belonged to Jackson County (6.8 percent), and Izard County had the third highest with 6 percent. Two more Delta counties reported the next highest rates – Phillips County had a 5.8 percent rate and Ashley County had a 5.7 percent rate. 

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