The latest unemployment report for Arkansas was released earlier this week, highlighting a decline in health care workers but an increase in other industries.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The latest unemployment report for Arkansas was released earlier this week, highlighting both some good news and some bad news.
But, to understand the numbers, there’s context that experts said is important.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke on the report during a Tuesday press briefing, where he said that he believes the state is in a good place but that it could be better.
“Which is the lowest in the recorded history of our state, since we’ve been tabulating unemployment numbers,” Hutchinson said.
Industries like trade, transportation, and utilities saw jumps in the number of employees. But on the flip side, health care saw a decline – down nearly 2,300 people.
“Those were offset by losing workers in the healthcare industry and education,” Hutchinson said. “That is a concern to us, we want to look deeper into that.”
Randy Zook is the president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. He’s one of the experts that’s looking looking deeper into the numbers.
“Plain fact is that it’s a very tough environment to work in, and people have been strained, to say the least,” he said.
But what’s causing the shortage in healthcare? Zook said there’s a couple of things that could be behind this – it could be burnout, fatigue, or retirement.
He said there are a lot of possible factors but context with the data is something to keep in mind.
“I don’t know that it was expected or unexpected, it’s understandable,” Zook said. “It’s one at a time, it’s not big movement in that area, even though it’s a couple of thousand, it’s still a relatively small percentage of the total health care workforce.”
Since the data is for the entire state, not just central Arkansas, the numbers aren’t as bad as they may be at first glance.
“Some of those people will come back to work. They’ll take a break, take a few months off, they’ll get their personal situation in good order, and they’ll be back to work,” Zook said. “I don’t think there’s any reason for panic in the numbers, it’s just the challenges in that part of the world.”