Institute for Economic Advancement

Arkansas Personal Income – 2015:Q1

By , June 22, 2015 3:26 PM

Personal income in Arkansas increased by 1.0% in the first quarter of 2015, outpacing the national average 0.9%.  Arkansas’ growth rate ranked 25th among the 50 states.  The 1st quarter increase in income comes on top of an upwardly revised figure of 1.9% growth in the 4th quarter (previously reported at 1.2%).  Over the past four quarters, incomes have increased by 4.9% in Arkansas, compared to 4.4% for the entire U.S.  Relative to the previous cyclical peak (2008:Q2), incomes have risen 22.6% in Arkansas.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Farm income and proprietors’ income more generally were down, both in Arkansas and nationally.   On the other hand, personal current transfer receipts were up sharply, reflecting several special factors including a 1.7% cost-of-living adjustment to social security benefits.

Earnings was up 0.7% and accounted for 44% of total personal income growth.  As shown in the following table, earnings growth was relatively strong in Utilities, Construction, Management of companies and enterprises, and Accommodation and food services.  In addition to the decline in farm income, earnings from Manufacturing and Mining were also negative.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – May 2015

By , June 19, 2015 11:11 AM

Arkansas’ unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.7% in May.  After having edged down to 5.6% for the first three months of the year, the state’s unemployment rate now stands at the same level as it did in November of 2014.  Compared to a year ago, however, the rate is down one-half of a percentage point.  The national unemployment rate was 5.5% in May.  With rates now in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 percent, unemployment is approaching the “full employment” level and significant further declines are likely to materialize slowly.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Although the unemployment rate was unchanged in May, the number of unemployed increased by 673 — the third consecutive monthly increase.  On a more positive note, the number of employed Arkansans was 972 higher than the previous month.  Over the past 19 months, the employment count from the household survey has increased by 51,521.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)


Payroll Employment

Total nonfarm payroll employment was up by 1,300 in May (seasonally adjusted).  Added to the 6,500 increase from the previous month, May’s increase brings employment back to its level of February — offsetting a sharp weather-related drop in March.  Compared to its pre-recession level (from December 2007), Arkansas employment is now up by 2,300 jobs (0.2%).  By comparison, nationwide employment surpassed its pre-recession level in April 2014, and is now up by an additional 2.4%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The May report showed declines in the major good-producing sectors, along with Transportation & Utilities and Financial Services.  Other service sectors saw employment gains, particularly Education & Health Services.  Since the employment trough of February 2010 only three sectors have shown further net declines:  Mining & Logging, Manufacturing, and Government.  However, many of the sectors that have expanded since then are still registering lower employment totals than before the Great Recession.  Manufacturing and Construction remain the weakest sectors in that regard.  Combined, employment in goods-producing categories (including Mining & Logging) is down 42,600 since December 2007.

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

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

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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.

Arkansas GDP in 2014

By , June 10, 2015 1:22 PM

State and regional GDP data for 2014 were released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis this morning.  Real GDP growth from 2013 to 2014 was 0.8% for Arkansas, compared to 2.2% nationally.  Arkansas ranked 38th among the 50 states in overall growth.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The BEA News Release noted that professional, scientific, and technical services was the largest contributor to U.S. real GDP, and that nondurable goods manufacturing and real estate and rental and leasing were also strong growth components.  In Arkansas, professional services and nondurable goods manufacturing contributed positively to growth, but not by as much as the nationwide figures.  On the other hand, mining was a strong component of Arkansas’ growth, as was management of companies and enterprises.  Week sectors of the Arkansas economy included utilities, construction, real estate, and agriculture, etc.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Although the data were not subject to major definitional changes, revisions to underlying source data turned out to be substantial for Arkansas.  Growth rates over the past decade were generally revised downward, with the exceptions being 2007 and 2011.   The magnitude of revisions to previous years’ growth rates serves as a reminder that the new data for 2014 are considered “advance” estimates and will be subject to revision next year.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Since the trough of the recession in 2009, real GDP in Arkansas experienced cumulative growth of 9.6%, compared to 10.1% for the U.S.   As shown in the following figure, growth in Arkansas was above the national average in 2010 and 2011, but has subsequently lagged behind.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – April 2015

By , June 3, 2015 12:21 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that unemployment rates in all of Arkansas’ metro areas were down from a year earlier.  Unemployment rates have been falling for well over a year now, and the pace of decline is slowing somewhat.  Consequently, the some of the year-over-year declines in April are smaller than they have been in recent months.  From April 2014 to April 2015, changes in unemployment rates have ranged from -0.2% in Fort Smith to -1.1% in Texarkana.  Statewide, the unemployment rate declined 0.4% over the same period.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The data are  now fully revised to reflect new estimation methodologies and data sources, as well as changes in the definitions of metropolitan areas.  However, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates have not yet been updated, so meaningful month-to-month comparisons are not possible.

Payroll Employment
Recent changes in payroll employment have been mixed.  From March to April, both Fort Smith and Jonesboro saw rather sharp increases — up 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively (seasonally adjusted).  Smaller gains were reported for Fayetteville, Little Rock and Memphis.  The other metro areas experienced month-to-month declines.  Over the past 12 months, employment in Pine Bluff has continued to decline and has been basically unchanged in Texarkana.*  Year-over-year net job growth has been positive elsewhere.  Nevertheless, total employment remains below pre-recession levels in 5 of the 80metro areas that include parts of Arkansas.

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

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

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Note:  Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2015:Q1

By , June 1, 2015 12:39 PM

In the first quarter of 2015, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) declined by 1.2%.  Compared to the first quarter of 2014, ATSIG was up by only 0.6%.  However, much of the decline in overall consumer spending can be attributed to low gasoline prices.  Based on data from the Oil Price Information Service, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Arkansas during the first quarter of the year was only $2.10, down 21.6% from the previous quarter and down 33.9% from a year earlier.  Moreover, the number of gallons of gasoline purchased dropped as well:  13.8% lower than a year earlier.  Total expenditures on gasoline were down 31.2% for the quarter (seasonally adjusted) and were down 38.7% from the year before.

With a smaller share of household budgets going toward purchases of gasoline, the non-gasoline component of Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) surged higher — up by 1.0% from the previous quarter and up 3.9% from the previous year.  The non-gasoline measure of taxable sales — based on sales tax collection data from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration — has increased by 20.4% since the trough of the recession (2009:Q2), reflecting an average annual growth rate of 3.3%.

Sources:  Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources:  Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

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Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Institute for Economic Advancement to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data.  Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service. A spreadsheet of the monthly and quarterly data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2015:Q1 (Excel file).

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