Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Arkansas House Prices – 2014:Q3

By , November 25, 2014 3:23 PM

The latest update on house prices from the Federal Housing Finance Agency came out this morning.  The most comprehensive of the FHFA indexes, the “Expanded-Data Indexes” show Arkansas house prices up 1.3% in the third quarter, compared to a 1.5% increase nationwide (seasonally adjusted).  Over the past four quarters, Arkansas house prices were up 3.4%, while U.S. prices rose by 6.0%.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Readings on house prices in Arkansas metro areas were mixed.   From the second quarter to the third quarter, prices in Fayetteville, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff all increased sharply.  However, prices were down in the state’s other metro areas.  Over the past year, Fayetteville, Hot Springs and Memphis have shown the largest cumulative gains.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency; seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency; seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

The figure below displays a slightly longer-run view.  Relative to the nationwide house-price peak at the beginning of 2007, prices are higher or unchanged in most of the state’s metro areas.  The chart shows that the three metro areas that have shown the most rapid appreciation over the past year or two are the same areas that exhibited the largest declines during and after the recession.  For example, prices in Northwest Arkansas declined by nearly 20% from the beginning of 2007 until mid-2011, but have since recovered to the point of being only 9%  below the 2007 peak.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency; seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency; seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Earnings, Prices, and the New Arkansas Minimum Wage

By , November 24, 2014 7:35 AM

A commentary in this week’s issue of Arkansas Business presents statistics on the Arkansas’ new minimum wage with comparisons to other states — adjusting for differences in cost-of-living and average earnings:  “Evaluating New Minimum Wage’s Effects.”  A spreadsheet of the raw data and calculations, along with a more complete interstate comparison of price- and wage-adjusted minimum wage rates, can be downloaded here: Minimum Wages by State.

PriceWage Table

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – October 2014

By , November 21, 2014 10:28 AM

The latest report on employment and unemployment in Arkansas shows the unemployment rate dropping two-tenths of a percent to 6.0% in October, the lowest level since July 2008.  More importantly, the underlying components of the unemployment rate are moving in a positive direction.  Earlier in the year, a falling unemployment rate was accompanied by a sharply contracting labor force.  The data for October shows a decline in the number of unemployed (-1,994), an increase in employment (+9,430), and an expanding labor force (+7,436).  The increase in labor force participation continues an uptrend that emerged in the September data.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Payroll Survey
Data collected from the state’s employers shows a small monthly increase in employment in October.  Nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 800 in October, and is up 14,200 from the previous year (seasonally adjusted).  Notable monthly increases were reported for Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, and Education & Health Services.  Employment in Wholesale and Retail trade contracted from September to October.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Since the employment trough of 2010, the official data show an increase in payroll employment of 44,700, still 12,300 lower than before the 2008-09 recession.  As we reported last month, however, the payroll data for late 2013 are likely to be revised down by approximately 9,400 jobs when the annual benchmark revisions are released in early 2015.  Taking into account these expected revisions, Arkansas payroll employment has increased by approximately 35,300 since February 2010, and remains 21,700 below the level recorded in December 2007.

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Local Area Personal Income – 2013

By , November 20, 2014 4:47 PM

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released new statistics on local area personal income this morning.  The new data for metro areas and counties show a pronounced slowdown in economic growth in 2013 compared to 2012, but the slowdown was not unique to Arkansas.  Nationwide, per capita personal income growth slowed from 4.4% in 2012 to 1.3% in 2013.   As shown in the table below, Fayetteville was the only metro area in Arkansas that grew faster than the national average in 2013.   Growth in three of Arkansas metro areas was negative in 2013, and with the exception of Northwest Arkansas none of the state’s metro areas experienced growth above 1%.  Revised figures for 2012 show that the slowdown in 2013 was particularly sharp in Arkansas, with all metro areas falling from above average growth in 2012.  Taking a somewhat longer view, two-year average growth rates for all of Arkansas’ metro areas except Texarkana exceeded the nationwide average.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The same pattern of sharp deceleration was evident in the county-level data as well.  Each of Arkansas’ 75 counties experienced a slowdown in growth between 2012 and 2013.  Individual county growth rates ranged from a high of 6.9% in Scott County to a low of -4.6% in Hempstead County.  Above-average growth was more common among individual counties than among metro areas:  34 of the state’s counties had growth rates that exceeded the national average.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Levels of per capita income continue to vary widely across the state.   In 2013, three of Arkansas’ counties had per capita personal income above the national average:  Pulaski, Union, and Arkansas counties.  At the other extreme, Sevier county had per capita income that was only 55.7% of the U.S. average.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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