Arkansas Economy

Arkansas finance officials say sluggish corporate and sales tax collections pushed the state's revenue below forecast and the same month last year as it began the fiscal year.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said the state's net available revenue totaled $403.1 million, which is $7.1 million below the same month last year and $9.8 million below forecast. Arkansas' fiscal year began July 1.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

After the general counsel for National Labor Relations Board said this week fast-food chain McDonald’s could be held liable along with its franchises for any labor violations, a demonstration was held outside one Little Rock restaurant on Friday.  

A group advocating alcohol sales in dry Arkansas counties says it hasn't gathered sufficient support in Faulkner and Craighead counties but has enough signatures in Saline County to be placed on the November ballot.

The group Our Community Our Dollars needed to collect signatures from 38 percent of voters in each county.

A separate group named Let Arkansas Decide still seeks a statewide ballot measure to allow alcohol sales in every county. Last month the group met an initial signature count and is working to collect additional signatures this month.

An association representing some of the world’s largest energy producers released a study Thursday claiming a possible new ozone regulation could be costly for Arkansans. The finding is disputed by leading environmental groups in the state.

A company that makes aluminum wheels for cars and other vehicles says it will shut down its manufacturing plant in Rogers, eliminating 500 jobs.

Superior Industries International Inc. announced Wednesday that it expects to cease operations at the Rogers plant by the end of this year. Work done at the plant will be shifted to other Superior facilities in Fayetteville and in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Arkansas is hosting its annual back to school sales tax holiday this weekend.

State and local taxes won’t be charged on Saturday and Sunday for clothing that is less than $100 per item and school-related merchandise. A complete list of items and exceptions can be found here.

Supporters of a plan to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage have been given 30 more days to circulate petitions and collect signatures after falling shy of the signatures needed to put their proposal on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Friday told the Give Arkansas a Raise Now campaign that it had fallen short of the 62,507 signatures from registered voters needed to qualify the proposed initiated act for the November ballot.

Martin's office said that more than 3,000 of the 64,135 signatures submitted by the group had been tossed out.

State officials say Arkansas' unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest rate in more than five years.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services says the state's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in June to 6.2 percent.

According to the department, the jobless rate is the lowest Arkansas has seen since November 2008. The agency says four industry sectors posted job losses in June, with the biggest drop coming in state and local government.

Map showing “wet” and “dry” counties in Arkansas as of 2014.
encyclopediaofarkansas.net

Proponents of allowing alcohol sales in Faulkner, Saline, and Craighead counties are touting a University of Arkansas study released Wednesday that concludes a change from “dry” to “wet” would be financially beneficial. UA Researcher Jeff Cooperstein said much of the increased revenue would not be new but derived from neighboring counties that are currently wet.

He also said an increase in alcohol consumption could drive new revenue.

Big River Steel says it has closed on the financing needed to build its $1.3 billion steel mill in northeastern Arkansas.

The company announced Tuesday that it would hold a formal groundbreaking ceremony later this summer at the site in Mississippi County.

The plant is expected to employ more than 500 people with an average annual salary of $75,000 once it's up and running.

Construction on the steel mill is expected to take about two years. The facility will produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas and electrical energy industries.

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