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Jobless rate reaches six-year low

The jobless rate in Logan County dropped to 6.6 percent in March, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the county in six years when a 6.3 percent rate was recorded in November, 2008.

The figure is classified as preliminary by DWS and could be revised. March is the latest month for which county figures are available.

Meanwhile, Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 6.6 percent in April, according to labor statistics released last Friday. The state’s jobless rate last month was down from the April 2013 rate of 7.5 percent, the state Department of Workforce Services said.

According to DWS, there were 8,700 people holding down jobs in Logan County in March, while 625 people were unemployed.

The 6.6 rate in March was four-tenths of a percent lower than the 7 percent jobless rate recorded in February. The county’s jobless rate averaged 7.1 percent for the first three months of the year. The March unemployment rate was 1.3 percent lower than the 7.9 percent in March 2013.

The March reading also reflects a continuing steady decline over unemployment rates in 2013. The county’s jobless rate in 2013 averaged between 8.8 percent in January and 7.1 percent in November and December.

Arkansas’ unemployment level last month exceeded the national rate of 6.2 percent, which was down from 6.7 percent in March.

DWS said 1.2 million Arkansas were employed in April and 86,700 were unemployed.

Eight major industry sectors added jobs last month, one declined and two were unchanged. The biggest growth was in leisure and hospitality, which increased by 2,800 jobs, about 2,000 of them in accommodation and food services, a typical season increase.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 1,200 jobs in April. Seasonal hiring in retail accounted for about 1,400 of the new jobs, offsetting the loss of 600 jobs in transportation, warehousing and utilities.

The only major industry sector to report overall losses was education and health services, which declined by 200 jobs.

DWS Communications Director Becky Heflin said, “Arkansas’ unemployment rate decline in April is related in part to the decrease in the number of unemployed and a decline in the size of the civilian labor force. There are still 12,300 fewer unemployed Arkansans than in April 2013.”

Growth posted in retail trade (up 2,200) related in part to reported hiring in building material and supplies dealers. Construction added 1,800 jobs, mostly in specialty trade contractors. Employment in educational and health services increased 1,800. Health care and social assistance reported a majority of the growth. Jobs in manufacturing rose 1,700. A majority of the additions were in durable goods manufacturing with some reported expansions in transportation equipment manufacturing.

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