FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Arkansas is now outperforming the country in terms of job growth, according to new employment data that came out last week.

Research associate David Sorto at the University of Arkansas said the report showed more than 19,000 people joined the state’s labor force over the past 12 months.

Unemployment grew by about 1.6%. The national average is 1.3%.

“It’s a good sign to see that we’re starting to grow slightly faster than the U.S. or around the average, so we’re closing the gap,” Sorto said.

Sorto said about 55% of the state’s job growth has been in Northwest Arkansas.