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Slow, Steady Growth Forecast for Arkansas Economy

Arkansas will experience slow, steady growth over the next couple of years, said Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Pakko presented his forecast today, Nov. 5, at the Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing hosted by the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the IEA. The event was held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.

He said that Arkansas has typically lagged behind the rest of the country through the economic recovery period of 2010-2013. However, he said, since 2014, employment has increased — with some positive signs in the manufacturing and construction industries — but there has been little wage growth which impacts consumer spending.

Details of Pakko’s Arkansas economic forecast include:

  • Seasonally adjusted payroll employment will grow by 15,700 jobs (1.3 percent) in 2016 and 13,800 jobs (1.1 percent) in 2017. About one-third of the job growth will be in the professional and business sector alone.
  • Gross domestic product will increase to 3.6 percent in 2016 and drop to 2.8 percent in 2017, following 0.8 percent in 2014 and 2.5 percent in 2015.
  • “Real” personal income is expected to rise 1.2 percent in 2016 and 2.2 percent in 2017.
  • Retail sales, including gasoline, will grow 5.2 percent in 2016 and 5.4 percent in 2017, based on Arkansas taxable sales.
  • Home sales will increase by 11.5 percent in 2016 but decrease by 3.7 percent in 2017.
  • Unemployment will drop to 5.1 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.

See his full presentation here.

In addition to Pakko, other speakers included Kevin Kliesen, St. Louis Fed research officer and business economist; Charles Gascon, St. Louis Fed regional economist; and, Gregory Hamilton, director and senior research economist at IEA.

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