Arkansas Economy

Metroplan

According to the 2015 Economic Review and Outlook report released by Metroplan, central Arkansas is showing signs of economic growth.

“During most of the year we were growing jobs at a faster rate than the northwest Arkansas region,” said Metroplan researcher Jonathan Lupton. “And normally they outperform us. This is the first year since 1998 that we’ve actually had faster job growth in central Arkansas than they’ve had in northwest Arkansas.”

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

About 600,000 Arkansas taxpayers are receiving an income tax cut with the start of the new year, a move that the state's Republican governor says will boost the economy but critics say threatens other state services.

The 1 percent income tax cut for those making between $21,000 and $75,000 approved by the majority-Republican Legislature last February took effect Friday.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who campaigned on the tax cut proposal, has cast it as a way to help the state's middle class and make Arkansas more competitive.

A year-ending survey of business contacts indicated that nearly half expect economic conditions in 2016 will be somewhat better than in 2015 as employment growth continue to strengthen across the state, according to the Federal Reserve’s “Burgundy Book.”

The report provides statistical and anecdotal notes on 62 of the state’s 75 counties. The Little Rock Zone covers six state metro areas, including Little Rock/North Little Rock/Conway, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Texarkana, Fort Smith and Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers.

Governor Radio
Office of the Governor

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of Dec. 18, 2015:

Over the past week, I have attended three major jobs announcements.

In Siloam Springs, Simmons Foods announced a new pet food ingredient facility near their company’s home office. According to Simmons Foods, the facility will create 78 new jobs with an economic impact of $50 million.

Lockheed Martin’s Camden-based operations, which is awaiting final word on a bid protest for the $30 billion Joint Light Armored Vehicle contract that went to Oshkosh Defense, will take part in another multi-billion award that will deliver Patriot missiles to U.S. military forces and close allies, company officials said Tuesday.

Batesville-based Bad Boy Mowers is investing $7.8 million in a facility expansion that is expected to add 160 jobs, raising the total employment to around 750.

Company officials said Monday (Dec. 14) the expansion is a 68,000-square-foot property on 10 acres near existing 1 million-square-foot building on 29 acres.

File photo. Construction of Big River Steel plant in Mississippi County.
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.

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