Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent in September, but the number of people employed in the state grew for the first time in six months, labor statistics released Friday show.

The state’s jobless rate remained 0.8 percentage points below the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, which also was unchanged from August, according to a report by the state Department of Workforce Services.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate last month was one-half of a percentage point higher than the September 2010 rate of 7.8 percent.

The good news in the report is that the number of employed people in the state increased by 3,300, said Workforce Services spokeswoman Kimberly Friedman.

"The last time employment increased was in March," she said.

Workforce Services reported that 1.24 million Arkansans were employed last month and 112,400 were out of work. The number of people unemployed in August was reported at 112,000, so the ranks of the employed grew significantly more than the ranks of the unemployed.

Four major industry sectors added jobs in September. The government sector posted the largest increase with 13,800 jobs added because of seasonal school hiring.

Jobs in educational and health services rose by 2,600, also attributed in part to school employment. Construction added 1,600 jobs, and financial activities added 400.

The largest decline occurred in leisure and hospitality, with 3,100 jobs lost, most of them seasonal.

Jobs in trade, transportation and utilities decreased by 2,500, with most of the losses occurring in retail.

Manufacturing posted 1,000 jobs lost.