A federal report on economic conditions for much of Arkansas highlights optimism in the business community, unemployment levels below the national average, but stagnation in wages.
Chief Economist and State Economic Forecaster at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Michael Pakko said the quarterly Burgundy Book, released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, shows some of the weakest growth is in average personal income. Another recent report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Arkansas’s personal income dropping 0.2 percent. But Pakko said some areas of consumer spending are still growing.
“Luxury retailers in northwest Arkansas have reported positive sales growth. That’s consistent with some other anecdotal evidence that I’ve heard around the state that some higher end household goods seem to be selling pretty well” said Pakko.
The St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Burgundy Book contains an assessment of attitudes of business leaders and shows over two-thirds expect economic conditions to improve throughout the rest of 2014. Pakko said that expectation compares favorably with neighboring zones - encompassing areas around St. Louis and Memphis.
The report also shows the manufacturing sector declining while transportation and the numbers of professionals showed gains.