Arkansas Economy

Arkansas’s jobless rate fell to a record low of 3.4% in July from the 3.5% in June, and below the 3.6% in July 2018. Year-over-year, the state economy added 15,625 jobs, a 1.2% increase according to data posted Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of employed in Arkansas during July was an estimated 1,316,265, up 15,625 jobs compared with July 2018. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,363,167 in July up 1% compared with the 1,349,795 in July 2018. The July numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

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July marked the beginning of the fiscal year and state revenues totaled over $462 million, which is 1.4 percent lower than last year. Though some revenue sources are lower compared to last year, according to Friday’s released report, that does not necessarily indicate a negative trend to Arkansas’ economy.

Since this is the first month of the new fiscal year, there are no cumulative balances to consider. The report instead makes comparisons to last July.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Martial artists from around the world began gathering in Little Rock Monday for the annual ATA World Expo. Little Rock’s largest annual convention is expected to draw roughly 20,000 visitors per day over the next week for a variety of Taekwondo events.

The convention includes two days of training and seminars followed by four days of competitions, which are open to the public.

Arkansas budget coffers overflowed with a surplus of nearly $300 million at the end of fiscal year 2019 but state tax officials are budgeting conservatively for the next 12 months because of a slowing economy and the elimination of one-time factors that boosted revenues over the past year.

For the 12-month period ended June 30, net available revenue rose a robust 7.8%, or $426.5 million, to $5.921 billion, and up $231.2 million, or 4.1%, above the budget forecast, according to Tuesday’s revenue report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Lockheed Martin Camden patriot missile
Lockheed Martin

Only days after Gov. Asa Hutchinson returned from a European trade mission where Lockheed Martin announced a multimillion-dollar deal to expand its operations in Camden, the Pentagon awarded the defense giant another blockbuster contract to manufacture warheads at its South Arkansas military industrial complex.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the expansion of the Lockheed Martin facility is "great news for South Arkansas."
Governor's Office

326 new jobs are to be created in south Arkansas as part of a Lockheed Martin expansion. At the Paris Air Show Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and representatives from the company announced the expansion of a plant in Camden. The governor sent a tweet about the announcement Monday morning.

With just two months left in the current fiscal year, Arkansas took in more revenue in April than was forecasted.

The monthly revenue report from the state Department of Finance and Administration shows Arkansas's net available revenue was just over $750 million in April, about 15 percent above the state's forecast.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

State lawmakers are proposing a $100 million tax cut for Arkansans making less than $22,200 per year. 

The cut would come from a three-part bill proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren on Thursday. Hendren said the bill, like last month's $97 million cut for the state's top earners, came about through recommendations by the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

After passing the Arkansas House of Representatives last Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially signed his plan to cut taxes for the state's top earners into law on Tuesday. The third and final part of his signature tax cut plan, the law will lower the state's top marginal income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent over a two-year span.

Hutchinson told reporters and Republican legislators gathered at the Capitol the $97 million plan will achieve its goal of making Arkansas more competitive to neighboring states.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

The Department of Finance and Administration says Arkansas was $13.1 million below projections for January, but the state's revenue is still up for the fiscal year. According to the DFA, the year-to-date net available general revenue is $3.4 billion, which is 4.1 percent higher than this time last year.

John Shelnutt, an economist with the department, said a drop in January revenue was forecasted, but not to this degree.

gas station
AAA

Motorists in Arkansas can expect the price of gas to hover just over two dollars per gallon, according to experts.

Mike Right, a spokesman for Triple A says this holiday season could be busier than most as far as travel is concerned.

"We're predicting that the Christmas, New Year's holiday period this year will set an all-time record. We're anticipating 112 million Americans will be on the highways, the airways, the railways over this holiday period and that's an increase over last year of 4.4 percent," said Right.

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Arkansas’s tax revenue is growing at a higher rate than experts expected this year.

The state’s November general revenue report from Arkansas’s Department of Finance and Administration shows a gross revenue increase of 7.5 percent compared to last year. That’s an increase of $34.4 million dollars, bringing the total revenue amount to $492.2 million dollars.

Ariel Martini / Flickr.com

If the casino ballot initiative passes in Arkansas on Tuesday, Delaware North, the parent company of Southland Gaming and Racing, will attempt to build a hotel and convention center in West Memphis, Delaware North Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jack McNeill told Talk Business & Politics. It would cost at least $200 million to build and would likely be located on the Southland property, he said.

Arkansas Children's Hospital
KATV-Channel 7

Arkansas Children’s Hospital CEO Marcy Doderer said one of the state’s largest health care systems will raise its minimum wage for entry level jobs to $14 per hour in the next fiscal year.

Doderer, appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, discussed this topic, the debate over pre-existing conditions, and a new legal initiative underway with Walmart and Legal Aid of Arkansas.

A study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution and the Walton Family Foundation looks at the economic health of a 19 state region in the middle of the country, including Arkansas.

"The State of the Heartland : Factbook 2018" uses socioeconomic factors to look at the how the area’s economy has been performing in recent years compared to the rest of the country. The full report can be found here.

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