In its most recent statistics, the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reports a state unemployment rate of 3.6 percent for December 2018, while Columbia County had a 4.2 percent rate in November. The state figure is lower than the U.S. average of 3.9 percent for the same month.
The Natural State had a total labor force in December of 1,350,399, while only 49,111 were unemployed. According to a recent news release, Arkansas manufacturing had the largest nonfarm payroll gains, by the addition of 1,400 jobs in that sector. Nondurable manufacturing was increased by 900 jobs and durable goods were increased by 500.
The greatest decrease last month came in the leisure and hospitality sector, with a loss of 2,000 jobs. In total, nonfarm payroll jobs decreased by 3,500 jobs. Compared to December 2017, though, nonfarm payroll jobs increased by 16,500.
The county-by-county breakdown for December has yet to be released by the state, but according to its November 2018 seasonally adjusted average — which are the most up-to-date figures available and identical to December’s 3.6 percent rate — Columbia County’s unemployment rate of 4.2 percent is higher than Arkansas’ average by 0.6 percent.
In total, the county in November had a labor force of 8,906, according to Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Of that, 370 were unemployed.
Neighboring Lafayette County had a higher rate than Columbia, with its 4.6 percent unemployment. The county had a total labor force of 2,536 in November and 116 unemployed.
Nevada County was lower than both Columbia and Lafayette Counties, as well as the state average, with its rate of 3.2 percent unemployed in November. It had a total workforce of 3,610, with 114 unemployed.
The state’s unemployment rate in 2018 peaked at 3.8 percent from February through June. It’s floor was recorded in September and October with a rate of 3.5 percent.
Washington County, with its 2.4 percent unemployment, had the lowest rate in December, while Chicot County had the highest rate at 5.9 percent. Lafayette County in November was tied for 62nd out of the state’s 75 counties, while Columbia County was tied at 53rd and Nevada County saw a five-way tie at 16th. The latter was also home to the lowest unemployment rate in southwest Arkansas.
Other county unemployment rates of interest for November 2018:
•Calhoun, 3.5 percent, tied 24th
•Hempstead, 3.7 percent, tied 30th
•Ouachita, 4.3 percent, tied 55th
•Miller, 4.4 percent, tied 59th
•Union, 4.7 percent, tied 65th