Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TOP STORY > >Jobless claims show steady rise here

By NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writer

No matter how you crunch the numbers, unemployment is on the rise for Jacksonville and the surrounding area, according to figures provided by the state Department of Workforce Services.

For example, in the month of October, 831 persons initiated a claim for unemployment benefits at the DWS office in Jacksonville. That number reflects a 90 percent increase over October 2007, when 437 new claims were filed. Any reasonable adjustment for size of workforce from one year to the next cannot explain away this dramatic statistic.

Comparing this September to October, there was a 35 percent spike. In September, 615 new claims were filed in the Jacksonville office, followed by 831 the next month.

In the last two weeks, compared to the same time period last year, the number of claims has risen 49 percent, from 253 to 378.

These numbers do not include only unemployment in Jacksonville. Arkansas residents can apply for unemployment benefits at any of the DWS offices statewide.

The Jacksonville location draws persons seeking workforce services from a wide radius, given the fact that there is no DWS office in Lonoke County, and only one in White County, in Searcy.

There are three DWS offices in Little Rock.

Regardless of where those claimants live, one thing is certain the numbers are up. That is also true on the state level.
In October, 28,346 new claims for unemployment were filed statewide.

That is a 66 percent increase over September and a 51 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2007.

In the last two weeks, 13,116 persons filed an initial claim for unemployment benefits in Arkansas.

That is a 54 percent jump over claims in the same time period last year.

The U.S. Department of Labor has determined that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Arkansas in the month of September was 4.9 percent.