Arkansas Business

Each month, Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program which provides health coverage for low income residents, refers new and renewed enrollees in the program to the Department of Workforce Services. The Arkansas Department of Human Services issued a report Monday on the number of enrollees referred to employment services this year. 

In the first quarter of the year 144,716 referrals were made. According to the report from DHS, the number of people actually acting on those referrals rose from 628 in January to 2,792 in April.

The Arkansas unemployment rate dropped to another record low for the month of April, to 3.5 percent. That’s a tenth of a percentage point drop from March. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reports it is the fourth month in a row the unemployment rate has dropped in the state.

In April of last year, the state unemployment rate was 4.1 percent. The latest 3.5 percent figure comes as the state’s seasonally adjusted civilian labor force also increased for the month, totaling 1,347,934 people. The unemployed totaled 47,697 in April, according to the DWS.

Department of Finance and Administration

Business leaders from across Arkansas will join with community leaders from the Delta Friday to develop strategies for improving the impoverished region. Simmons Bank, based in Pine Bluff, is sponsoring the second annual conference, “The Arkansas Delta: Why It Still Matters.”

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A Chinese textile company is planning to open a cotton spinning facility in Forrest City, with the expectation of creating 800 new jobs. Representatives from Shandong Ruyi Technology Group made the announcement alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson Wednesday.

David Monteith / KUAR

The official grand opening of Little Rock’s Tech Park is scheduled for Monday afternoon. The mission of the facility, located in the heart of downtown Little Rock, is to foster innovation and collaboration among entrepreneurs and established technology companies, and to spur economic growth.

Kevin Zaffaroni, chairman of the board for the Tech Park, says the project is showing success.

Arkansas-based retail giant Wal-Mart in its re-organization of the Walmart U.S. technology division is eliminating around 300 jobs in the Information Systems Division (ISD).

Insiders said the retailer is laying off about 10% of its ISD workforce over the next few days. The layoffs at ISD in Bentonville began this week and are expected to continue through the month.

AETN / AETN

Trailer for the film:

KUAR’s David Monteith interviewed Tanisha Conway, producer of the film “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street.”

DAVID MONTEITH: Give us a preview of the documentary. What is it about West 9th Street that made you want to make a movie about it?

Arkansas Department of Workforce Services / Arkansas Department of Workforce Services

According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, unemployment in the state dropped to 3.8 percent in January, which is a record low. The national unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.

The report released Monday reflects data on jobs and joblessness from January 2016 to January 2017. The sector showing the most growth in Arkansas over the year was "professional-scientific-technical services," which added 2,400 jobs.

State Rep. John Payton (R-Wilburn) sponsoring legislation to limit workers compensation benefits.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas workers injured on the job and the families of workers killed on site are facing the prospect of an eight year, eight month limit on workers compensation benefits. The Arkansas House barely passed the bill to restrict benefits with the needed supermajority on Monday. It follows a 2016 law ending the state’s contribution to a compensation fund assisting employers and their insurance pay claims.

State Representative Charlie Collins argued it had to be done to help business interests, who help pay for the benefit.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Whirlpool’s 2016 Annual Progress Report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality will be released on Feb. 15, according to ADEQ spokeswoman Kelly Robinson.

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