Arkansas Economy

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas’s unemployment rate is up, though not by very much. The state also still rests below the national average in the September report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

After three months of flat unemployment numbers Arkansas’s rate ticked up from 3.9 percent in August to 4 percent in September. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson Skype
Governor's Office

After seeing thousands of nondurable apparel manufacturing jobs leave eastern Arkansas since the early 1990s, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his economic development team are bringing 400 of those jobs back to the state.

Students
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Marvell-Elaine schools bus driver Larry Greer’s route twists through the Arkansas Delta, between the White and Mississippi Rivers. “All together I go from Elaine to Snow Lake, 65 miles round trip,” he said, while elementary school kids filed onto his bus for the afternoon ride home.

These are country bus stops along country roads. The way is long. In the morning, Greer says, he will wait only so long at an empty stop before he snaps his levered doors closed again. “If they don’t come out, they’re not going that day.”

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue in September again fell below expectations and the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue last month totaled $515.5 million, which is $500,000 below the same month a year ago and $16.7 million below the forecast. The state's net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $1.3 billion, which is $4.3 million below the same point last year and $32 million below forecast.

Two manufacturers in Little Rock have announced plans for a $6.4 million expansion that will create 43 new jobs.

G.C. Evans Sales and Manufacturing and Sleeve Seal announced the expansion Monday. The two companies are now based in a facility on south Woodrow Street but will move all operations to a site in south Little Rock as part of the expansion.

G.C. Evans makes packaging and processing equipment for the food, bottling and pharmaceutical industries, while Sleeve Seal supplies high-speed labeling equipment and shrink labels for the packaging industry.

Last Minute Effort Fails To Stop Mental Health Funding Cuts

Sep 30, 2016
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Funding cuts for mental health services through Medicaid are taking effect October 1, despite a last-ditch effort at the state legislature Friday to walk back a change that some say could have dire consequences.

The cuts, finalized last week, would limit group therapy length from an hour and a half to an hour and set a cap of 25 counseling visits per year for Medicaid recipients who might otherwise go every week.

The vote to revisit the decision failed to gain two thirds from the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday morning.

Downtown Magnolia, Arkansas.
flickr.com

A fuel-cell manufacturer has notified local officials that it will shut its plant in Magnolia, putting about 300 people out of work in south Arkansas.

Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann says he was notified last week that American Fuel Cells and Coated Fabrics Co., also known as Amfuel, will shut down production at its plant. The manufacturer has been located in Magnolia for more than 60 years.

A spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission says the agency was notified of the plant's closure and said the company received no state incentives.

Map of unemployment rate change from August 2015 to August 2016.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For the third straight month Arkansas’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 3.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August report. It is a full point below an also flat nationwide unemployment rate.

A 4x4 utility vehicle sold by Intimidator Inc.
Intimidator Inc.

A utility vehicle and mower manufacturer in Batesville announced on Monday it plans to add 400 employees to its operation.

Over $12-million will be poured into an expansion of Intimidator Incorporated’s existing facility in Batesville and the construction of an entirely new plant nearby in the Independence County Industrial Park. 400 jobs are expected to be created over a four year period.

While a better Arkansas economy has helped lower the state’s 2013-2015 food insecurity rate to 19.2% from the 19.7% in the 2010-2012 period, national and regional food bank officials say more help is needed and the rates remain above pre-recession realities.

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson kicked off the annual Arkansas Hospitality Convention in Little Rock on Wednesday  by touting the impact the fast-growing tourism industry is having on the state's overall economic expansion.

Citing a recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report designating Arkansas as the nation’s economic leader during the first quarter, Hutchinson told convention-goers gathered at the Statehouse Convention Center that the tourism sector has also play a key role in recent job growth and low unemployment levels.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas and federal officials have extended an agreement for a research center that's aimed at enhancing regulatory science.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding extending for another five years their partnership on the Arkansas Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science.

The center was established in 2011 at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research and is aimed at modernizing regulatory science to help move safer products to the market, according to the MOU.

City Board To Consider Paying Bonus To Employees Who Live In Town

Aug 31, 2016
River Market District
inarkansas.com

New employees of the City of Little Rock may receive a financial incentive to reside within the municipality.

The city’s Board of Directors is considering a $5,000 dollar gift for employees who buy homes in town, or $2,500 to employees who rent in Little Rock. The board discussed possible residency incentive for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.

City spokesperson Jennifer Godwin says the proposal was inspired by a recent failed initiative to require police officers to live within city limits.

Stock Photo

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Low interest rates, stable loan demand and hyper competition characterized the banking climate in the state and nation, with net income for all U.S. banks up 1.46% in the second quarter of 2016.

Mainstream Technologies will open a second location in downtown Conway, the 20-year old IT services firm announced on Thursday.

The Conway facility will begin operations in September with 15 new employees. Little Rock-based Mainstream provides managed services, custom software, and hosting to clients throughout the mid-South.

Fiscal second quarter net income for Wal-Mart Stores rose more than 8%, with adjusted per share earnings of $1.07 topping the consensus estimate of $1.02. Quarterly revenue of $120.854 billion also beat expectations.

Talk Business & Politics reports Walmart U.S. same-store sales rose 1.6%, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of positive comps with the closely watched financial metric.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Elyxor
Alden Walters / KUAR News

A software engineering company with an office in North Little Rock is expanding from four to 45 employees over the next five years, its leadership and Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday. Boston-based Elyxor supports clients around the world in finance, health care, eCommerce, industrial products and supply chains.

Diamond Pipeline LLC

Talk Business and Politics reports

Little Rock-based Welspun Tubular has received a $47 million contract to manufacture two-thirds of the pipe needed to construct the 440-mile Diamond Pipeline, a controversial multistate project that will ship light, sweet premium grade crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to Valero Corp.’s sprawling refinery facility in Memphis, Tenn.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking at the FinTech Accelerator Gloval Investor Demo Day at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The state of Arkansas is investing $1 million in discretionary funds over the next two years in a 50-50 partnership with the financial tech company FIS, to continue a program meant to bolster start-ups in the industry.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said he’ll also ask the legislature for $2 million to expand the accelerator concept to industries beyond the financial sector. He made the announcement Wednseday at FinTech’s Accelerator Global Investor Demo Day at the Clinton Presidential Library.

The jobless rate for all metro areas in or connected to Arkansas rose in June compared to May, but year-over-year job growth continued in the state’s largest metro areas, with Northwest Arkansas seeing a 5.16% gain and central Arkansas up almost 4%.

Jobless rates ranged from a low of 3.1% in Northwest Arkansas to a high of 5.7% in the Pine Bluff and Memphis-West Memphis metros, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data posted Wednesday.

After ending fiscal 2016 with a $177 million surplus, state tax collections in the first month of the new budget year came in well below forecast as a number of economic indicators point to slowing business activity in the second half of 2016.

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration’s monthly financial report, net available general revenues for the first month of fiscal 2017 totaled $400.6 million, $1.4 million or 0.4% above last year and $7 million or 1.7% below forecast.

Conway has landed another Fortune 500 company.

Already home to top-tier companies such as Acxiom, HP, International Paper and Kimberly-Clark, Insight – a global provider of information technology solutions – announced it will add a sales center in the Meadows Office and Technology Park in Conway. Talk Business & Politics reports Insight expects to hire 50 more workers in Conway to its new, existing workforce of around 170.

education schools
arkansas.gov

A New York securities and class action law firm has proposed a $300 million settlement with Wall Street financial service giant State Street Corp. on behalf of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, the lead plaintiff in a federal case going back more than five years.

Arkansas Has Highest GDP Growth Rate In Nation

Jul 27, 2016
A breakdown of GDP growth rates by state and region.
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Arkansas’s gross domestic product, or GDP, grew at a higher rate than any other state in the nation through the first quarter of 2016. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Wednesday shows the state's 3.9 percent GDP growth outpacing the national rate of 1.2 percent.

The Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, Kathy Deck says other positive economic indicators preceded this measurement of the state’s economic output.

Stock Photo

Arkansas’ jobless rate remained unchanged in June from last month, however the state’s civilian pool remained declined slightly as employers added fewer worker to payrolls before the back-to-school employment surge begins in early August.

Labor force data, produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released Friday (July 22) by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, shows Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June stayed at 3.8%, an all-time low first touched in May. A year ago, the June jobless rate was 5.3%.

Governor's Radio Column: Trade Mission To Europe

Jul 16, 2016
Hutchinson Official
Office of the Governor

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of July 15, 2016:

Last Saturday, I boarded a flight to London with a team from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to attend the Farnborough International Air Show. Over the last 10 years, Arkansas has had a significant presence at the Farnborough Air Show – and this year was no exception. Attendees included 86 of the world’s top 100 aerospace companies and over 100,000 trade visitors from 56 countries.

Arkansas Opens Economic Development Office In Berlin

Jul 13, 2016
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks with reporters via telephone from Berlin.
Jacob Kauffman/KUAR

The state of Arkansas officially opened an office in Germany on Wednesday to gin up economic development. The opening, replete with a reception at the U.S. Embassy, came as Governor Asa Hutchinson’s trade mission to Europe nears its close. He also attended the Farnborough International Airshow near London.

Speaking via telephone from the heart of the European Union, Hutchinson said Arkansas needs to have a presence to secure trade and investment opportunities.

"Arkansas has to be here at the table competing with other states,” he said.

Chris Masingill Delta Regional Authority
Talk Business & Politics

Local leaders in Arkansas are getting new training from the Delta Regional Authority and the International Economic Development Council to make better use of existing resources. A two-day conference in North Little Rock wrapped up Tuesday. It's one of 32 being held in the eight-state Delta region.

Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, says the workshops are part of an effort to get information out to officials about how to maximize local efforts in economic development.

Members of the Arkansas Rice Federation have traveled to Cuba to discuss the future of trade between the U.S. and Cuba.
 
The delegation, which included Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, was briefed on developments in Cuban farming and also met with representatives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Havana University and Alimport, the state-owned operation responsible for agricultural imports and exports.
 

Governor Asa Hutchinson AEDC Mike Preston
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson touted new revenue numbers for the state Tuesday while making the case for further tax cuts. It comes as the Republican and an entourage are preparing for a trip abroad primarily focused on nurturing the state’s aerospace industry.

For fiscal year 2016, which ended at the end of June, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported Tuesday net available revenue of $5.3 billion. That's $117 million higher than the previous year, though gross general revenue was down about three percent.

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