Pine Bluff’s unemployment rate dropped from October 2016 to November 2016, continuing a positive trend.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reports Pine Bluff’s unemployment rate similarly fell from 6.4 percent in September 2016 to 5.5 percent in October 2016, and to 5.4 percent in November 2016. These are the most recent statistics available, as the numbers typically lag a couple months behind.

Comparably, Pine Bluff had an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent in October 2015.

Jefferson County saw a similar drop in the unemployment rate from 5.6 percent in September 2016 to 4.9 percent in October 2016, and to 4.8 percent in November 2016.

Jefferson County had an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent in September 2015.

Lou Ann Nisbett, president and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, hailed the news. She said it coincides with new industries moving to Pine Bluff.

“I think it would be a good impact on existing businesses,” Nisbett said. “I hear from small businesses. They say bring in the large industries. The smaller businesses are services or suppliers.”

Nisbett highlighted Mondi Bags USA buying Graphic Packaging, Kiswire buying the ArcelorMittal, Highland Pellets opening, Energy Security Partners planning to build a natural-gas-to-liquid-fuel plant, and Chinese company Newland LLC opening in Pine Bluff.

“I think there is positive momentum with so many things starting to happen with the library bond passing and the aquatics centers (planned construction) to the Go Forward Initiative being announced on Jan. 12,” Nisbett said. “Other positive things are following.”

Andy Lunsford is the owner and principal broker at Lunsford and Associates Realty Company, which sells residential and commercial properties. He sees a direct correlation between home sales increasing and the unemployment rate declining.

“As far as our company is concerned, 2016 was a record year as far as total volume,” he said. “Lunsford Realty did more than $30.5 million in volume.”

The Jefferson County Board of Realtors sold $93 million in real estate in 2016, which includes Lunsford Realty. The board sold $77.6 million in real estate in 2015 and $66.6 million in 2014.

“The winter is typically the slow period,” he said. “I anticipate 2017 real estate values to remain stable if not increase.”