Pine Bluff’s unemployment rate for August declined for the first time in five months as many teachers went back to work with the opening of school.
The rate for August was 6.9 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for July. Despite the decline, Pine Bluff’s rate was still the second highest in the state. Blytheville in northeast Arkansas recorded an 8.2 percent rate in August.
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.”
According to the Department of Workforce Services, there were 16,145 people in Pine Bluff that were employed last month, and an additional 1,190 who were unemployed.
Rogers in Northwest Arkansas recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the state last month at 2.5 percent.
Jefferson County’s unemployment rate for August was 5.9 percent, down from the 6.2 percent reported in July.
The only other city in southeast that was listed in the monthly report was El Dorado, which had a rate of 6.2 percent in August. The rate for Little Rock was 3.4 percent and 3.7 percent for North Little Rock.
The statewide unemployment rate was unchanged from July to August at 3.9 percent. The national rate was also unchanged at 4.9 percent.