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Sunday, May 22, 2022

A closer look at Arkansas record unemployment

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Data: Arkansas Division of Workforce Services.  Graphic: Axios Visuals
Data: Arkansas Division of Workforce Services. Graphic: Axios Visuals

What’s good and bad at the same time? The employment situation in Arkansas.

What is happening: The percentage of Arkansas unemployed people looking for work has been on a downward trend over the past year, dropping to an all-time low of 3.1% in December. At the same time, small businesses looking to hire people don’t get the candidates they need.

Because matter: Small businesses make up over 99% of all businesses in the state, employing nearly half a million people. A dwindling workforce pool hinders their ability to grow and, in some cases, build customer loyalty.

  • Recent research by Goldman Sachs highlights the continuing headwinds for entrepreneurs.

Context: Mervin Jebaraj, director of U of A’s Center for Business and Economic Research, cited three reasons for the conundrum:

  1. Many people have retired, at least while the pandemic was active, so they are not counted as looking for work.
  2. Another large group cannot find or afford childcare, so they have simply withdrawn from the job market.
  3. The demand for workers is on the rise due to a 30-40% increase in new businesses launched in 2020 and 2021.

Data: Arkansas Division of Workforce Services; Map: Thomas Oide / Axios

By the numbers: The unemployment rate in the northwest corner of the state is between 1.4% (Benton County) and 1.6% (Madison County), the lowest rates in Arkansas.

  • Eastern Arkansas has the highest rates with 5.2% (Chilcot County), 4.8% (Phillips County), and 4.2% (Mississippi County).
  • The numbers are for November, the most recent data available.

What they are saying: Mike Rohrbach, owner of Flying Burrito and partner of the Bocca Italian restaurant and Kingfish bar in Fayetteville, said it could employ up to nine employees.

  • “It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” she told Axios as she was cooking for the lunch rush. “They just aren’t walking in the door.”
  • He has been in the restaurant business for nearly 30 years and is careful not to work employees too hard lest they leave.

The bottom line: Jebaraj says the only real solution is to overcome the pandemic.

Of note: The Center for Business and Economic Research’s annual Business Forecast is Friday at 11:30 am. Contact the Registration Center.

Read More: An interactive version of the state unemployment map.

#closer #Arkansas #record #unemployment

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