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Unemployment numbers kinda-sorta drop in the Natural State

By: 19 June 2010 No Comment

The unemployment rate in Arkansas may have dropped in May, but we're still not even as gainfully employed as we were a year ago.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics came out yesterday, revealing that in May, Arkansas’ unemployment rates dropped a whopping .1 percent to 7.7 percent.

Although we’re not doing as bad as, say, Michigan or our neighbors in Mississippi, in the grand scheme of things our jobless numbers are higher than they were in May 2009, when we were enjoying happier times at 7.2 percent.

It’s no secret that jobs from the U.S. Census Bureau helped provide jobs and provide that extra boost of 4,105 extra folks in the workforce. I was one of those folks who took a Census job – but with all my binders filled and houses counted for, my work there is done. I’ll be fine, but what about the others?

This week, a vote on a fifth-tier extension of Unemployment Insurance stalled in Congress, and an estimated 1.2 million nationwide are expected to lose their benefits by next week.

The standing argument of jobless-bill stallers is that unemployment insurance keeps people from looking for work. (I’d like to see those in congress try to live on $293 a week, which is the average amount of jobless benefits in the U.S. as of 2009.)

Labor losses in the shrimping and fishing industry are likely to be reflected next month – those losses likely to trickle over to Arkansas.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the glimmer of hope in Fort Smith, where Mitsubishi plans to build a $100-million, 200,000-square-foot wind-turbine manufacturing plant. If all systems go, we could bring 400 much-needed jobs to Arkansas in the coming years.

About: Eleanor Evans:
Eleanor Evans is a happily self-employed freelance writer living in northwest Arkansas. Check out her blog at http://bellesouth.blogspot.com.

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