Pine Bluff's unemployment rose to 6.1 percent in June from 4.9 percent in May, according to the latest statistics from the Arkansas Department of Labor, while Jefferson County's rate shrunk from 5.3 percent in May to 4.5 percent in June. The city's unemployment rate sat at 7.1 percent in June 2016.
Mervin Jebaraj, assistant director of the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business, said one reason for the summer uptick was due to teachers being off for several months. While they get a paycheck year-round, most are on a 9-month contract, he said.
“They technically go off the payrolls during the summer months,” he said. “And it shows an upward trend in unemployment. This data is gathered through surveys and payroll analysis.”
Additionally, Southwind Milling in Pine Bluff laid off around 50 workers in June.
The state's highest unemployment for June was in Blytheville at 8.8 percent. Pine Bluff had the third highest unemployment rate for June, behind Blytheville and El Dorado, which had 6.2 percent of its labor force unemployed. The state's lowest unemployment rate for June was at Rogers in northwest Arkansas. The city had just 2.7 percent of its laborers unemployed. Statewide in June, 3.4 percent of residents, or 46,388 were unemployed. That's up slightly from 3.3 percent in May. The national unemployment rate for June was 4.4 percent, up from 4.1 percent in May.