State unemployment increases to 7.1 percent


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percent in December to 7.1 percent, according to labor statistics released Friday.

The state’s jobless rate last month was seventh-tenths of a percent lower than the December 2011 rate of 7.8, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.

The national unemployment rate for December was 7.8 percent, the same as the November rate and down seven-tenths of a percent from the December 2011 national jobless rate of 8.5 percent.

DWS said 1.3 million Arkansans were employed in December and 96,200 were unemployed.

Seven major industry sectors posted job losses last month, more than offsetting gains in two sectors. The biggest decrease occurred in leisure and hospitality, with 3,000 jobs lost, a majority of them in accommodation and food services, which DWS said was a typical seasonal trend.

Government jobs declined by 900, with 700 jobs lost at the state government level, mostly attributed to the start of the winter break at public universities.

Jobs in educational and health services declined by 800, with most of the losses occurring in social assistance, related in part to employment declines in child daycare services and children and youth services.

The biggest increase was in manufacturing, which added 300 jobs, 200 of them in nondurable goods and 100 in durable goods.