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The Choice is ... JOBSAlmost 2,000 more Arkansans had work this past December as compared to December, 2010, per the Department of Workforce Services report released last week, while unemployment rate dropped from 7.9% in November to 7.7% in December. However, that still left 105,300 without work in December, per the report that shows the civilian labor force up by 3,100, with 6,300 more people with work and 3,200 less without.

A barometer of the non-recovering “recovering economy,” the report is confusing, showing 8 areas including leisure/hospitality, “non-farm payroll jobs,” and construction lost at least 9,500 jobs according to the report, while 9 (like educational/health services and government) added at least 6,700.

Arkansas Business quotes Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster with the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock: “Today’s report was not unambiguously positive. The independent report on payroll employment showed a decline in the number of jobs in December. It’s not unusual to see the two surveys give conflicting signals from month to month, but the apparent weakness in that data series suggests that we might want to temper enthusiasm about the outlook for 2012, at least until we see how the data emerge over the first part of the year.”

Last week’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed Arkansas with a 7.4% December unemployment rate (the lowest in the Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas region, which had 8.4%).