Arkansas Economy

Big River Steel
www.bigriversteel.com

The state Court of Appeals has rejected a steel company's attempt to block the air permit for a rival's $1.3 billion mill under construction in northeast Arkansas.

The court on Wednesday upheld the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission's decision to issue the permit for the Big River Steel mill in Osceola.

The City of Little Rock is recommending a 2.5 percent salary increase to city workers including police, firefighters, and 911 call center staff as part of its 2016 budget. 

A recent consultant’s review of the city’s 911 call center found staffing issues are leading to a weaker 911 service. The report said calls to 911 regularly go unanswered.

The yearlong downturn in Arkansas’ much-maligned manufacturing sector will continue through the early part of next year and will likely push the number of blue collar jobs near or below 150,000 for the first time in decades, according to The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index for July released Monday (Dec. 1).

The Arkansas unemployment continued to tick down in October falling to 5.1 percent. It marks the fifth straight month of a declining unemployment rate according to information released by the Department of Workforce Services on Friday. It sits just above the national average of 5 percent.

Chief Economist and Economic Forecaster Michael Pakko at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said the state’s economy has continued to improve since October of last year when unemployment was at 5.7 percent.

Arkansas Children's Hospital
Wikipedia

Arkansas hospitals are doing better than some of their counterparts in other states that did not expand their Medicaid populations, a new study by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement finds.

In 2013, Arkansas legislators voted to expand Arkansas’ Medicaid population through the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program, better known as the private option. The program uses state Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance for Arkansans with incomes of no more than 138% of the federal poverty line. Many states, meanwhile, chose not to expand their populations.

Wal-Mart Execs Provide Update On Retailer’s 10-Year Sustainability Milestones

Nov 18, 2015

It’s been a decade-long journey of sustainability for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and while the retailer has met several of its milestone goals set five and 10 years ago, executives continue to up the ante because CEO Doug McMiilon said it’s good business.

At its annual milestone meeting in Bentonville on Tuesday (Nov. 17), Wal-Mart announced the completion of prior commitments to reduce 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its global supply chain and double its fleet efficiency, while it continues to work on other goals.

walmart wal-mart
Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores posted fiscal third quarter net income of $3.304 billion, below the $3.711 billion in the same period of 2015, but better than what was expected by equity analysts who cover the retailer. And while the closely watched metric of same-store sales moved in the right direction for Wal-Mart, the company is predicting “relatively flat” sales growth for the year.

After entering 2015 with big hopes and a potentially game-changing bid to land a flag-waving super project in the state’s neglected Delta region, Arkansas’ manufacturing sector has hit a wall in the second half of 2015 as the number of blue collar jobs in the state are sliding to the lowest level since the state began keeping such records.

Jefferson County Courthouse Pine Bluff
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

It’s no secret that Pine Bluff has seen better days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population dropped 7.6%, from 49,080 to 45,332, from 2010 to 2014. That’s down from 57,389 in 1970. The median household income of $30,515 is more than $10,000 less than the Arkansas median of $40,768.

Jefferson County’s unemployment rate of 7.8% is 2.4 points higher than Arkansas’ 5.4 percent. Many Arkansas downtowns are rundown, but parts of Pine Bluff’s Main Street have fallen down.

But there are bright spots, and a reason to look ahead.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he has a list of companies in Japan and China that he plans to visit in the coming days during his Far East trade mission in hopes those countries will consider future capital ventures and investments in Arkansas.

“It is important for the governor of Arkansas to market the state, and to bring opportunity,” Hutchinson said at the annual meeting of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. “I will be able to knock on their door.”

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