While Arkansas as a whole experienced only a modest decline in unemployment during March, Delta counties recorded declines of nearly 1 percent across the board, including an 0.9 percent drop in the jobless numbers in Phillips County.

While Arkansas as a whole experienced only a modest decline in unemployment during March, Delta counties recorded declines of nearly 1 percent across the board, including an 0.9 percent drop in the jobless numbers in Phillips County.

Statewide, unemployment figures dropped only 0.1 percent to 3.6 percent. In February, Arkansas's 3.7 percent hit a record low that dated all the way back to 1976.

Phillips County's jobless rate stood at 5.7 percent during March, down from 6.6 percent in February. Despite the significant drop the county continued to have the state's sixth highest unemployment mark for the sixth consecutive month.

The labor force in Phillips County was reported at 6,566 during March, up 30 from February. A total of 6,192 Phillips Countians were employed in March compared to 6,102 in February, an increase of 90. Only 374 members of the workforce were without jobs in March as opposed to 434 in February, 60 fewer.

Neighboring counties also reported similar trends in declining unemployment numbers. Desha County recorded that 6.2 percent were out of work in February. The March numbers reflected a 1.2 percent decline to 5.0 percent. Lee County also showed significant growth in employment. The jobless numbers stood at 6.0 percent in February compared to 4.7 percent in March – a decline of 1.3 percent.

Monroe County unemployment figures also dropped nearly a full percentage point. A total of 5.2 percent were without jobs in February as compared to just 4.3 percent in March, a decrease of 0.9 percent.

St. Francis County reported a dip of one full percentage point during the same 30-day period. The jobless numbers hit 5.8 percent in February but fell to 4.8 percent in March. St. Francis County has reason to be optimistic that the unemployment figures will continue to fall with the announcement of the plans for the Chinese cotton textile firm Shandong Ruyi Technology Group to locate there. Production is expected to begin by mid-2018 and it plans on processing more than 200,000 tons of cotton annually. As many as 800 workers are expected to be hired.

Meanwhile, Washington County continues to report the lowest jobless numbers in the state at 2.4 percent. That's a decline of 0.4 percent since February. For the fifth month in a row, Chicot County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.1 percent. However, that was a whopping 1.1 percent drop from February's 8.2 percent.

Arkansas followed the national trend of modest decline in joblessness. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, an 0.2 percent drop between February and March. Both Arkansas and the United States unemployment numbers were down 0.5 percent from March 2016.

A seasonal increase in the number of farm hands may have played a role in the sharper declines in unemployment in the Delta region counties of the state.

Statistics were obtained from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. They are not seasonally adjusted.