A new report by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that total consumer spending in Arkansas continues to lag behind much of the nation. The rate of growth in consumer spending, meanwhile, is keeping pace with the rest of the country, notes Michael Pakko, senior economic forecaster for the state of Arkansas.
He says the new state-by-state data gives a more localized picture of the economy over fifteen years (from 1997-2012), including the recovery from the most recent recession.
“Basically the story is that in the recession, [the state's] consumer spending declined but by less than a percentage point,” he says. “So it suggests that consumers in Arkansas weren’t as hard hit by the recession as in many other parts of the country.”
Pakko notes that the new study illuminates aspects of consumer spending which previous data-sets like sales-tax revenue could only partially illuminate. The study shows per-capita personal expenditures in Arkansas for housing and energy as well as food and beverages were among the highest in the nation.
Pakko says it is not surprising that Arkansas is far behind other states in total consumer spending because overall incomes in the state continue to remain low.
“It’s been a long-term goal of public policy in Arkansas to raise per-capita income where our income is about 81 percent of the national average. And as we see that converge higher toward the national average we would expect to see the same pattern in spending. After all, over the long-run consumer spending is constrained by the amount of income households have at their disposal,” he says.
The study shows that in 2012, the total Arkansas personal conumption expenditures were $28,366.