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State jobless rate falls to 7.2 percent

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell slightly in June, according to labor statistics released last week.

The state jobless rate was 7.2 in June, down from 7.3 percent in May. The monthly rate is nine-tenths of a percentage point lower than the 8.1 percent in June 2011.

“The decrease in the number of unemployed Arkansans offset the decline in employment, causing Arkansas’ unemployment rate to drop,” said Kimberly Friedman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Services.

“There were 233,100 more employed Arkansans than in June 2011,” she said.

The state’s unemployment rate for June was 1 percentage point below the national rate of 8.2 percent.

Workforce Services reported that 1.29 million people were employed in Arkansas last month and 99,200 were out of work. The total civilian labor force in the state dropped by 4,200 in June.

Five major industry sectors posted losses during the month, offsetting gains in five other sectors. .

Jobs in government fell 5,700 in June. Most of the declines, 4,300 in state government and 1,500 in local government, were attributed to the summer break at public schools and universities.

Leisure and hospitality added 1,700 jobs. Those gains were mostly seasonal, with increases of 700 in arts, entertainment and recreation, and 1,000 in accommodation food services.

Since June 2011, five major industry sectors enjoyed growth, more than offsetting loses in six sectors.

The biggest increase was in educational and health services with 7,500 jobs added, most of them in health care and social assistance, particularly in ambulatory health care.

Employment in government increased by 3,300 since a year earlier as expansions in local government more than offset losses in federal and state government.

Construction jobs decreased by 2,900, with declines reported in a number of subsectors, including speciality trade, contractors, building equipment contractors and nonresidential building construction.

Jobs in professional and business services dropped by 2,000 from June 2011, with administrative and support services, which includes temporary and permanent employment agencies, posting the largest decrease.

Layoffs and businesses closures resulted in a loss of 2,000 jobs in manufacturing since June 2011.

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