Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Arkansas House Prices – 2017:Q2

By , May 24, 2017 5:40 PM

Arkansas house prices continue to trend upward, but at a slower pace than the national average.  According to the latest Expanded Data indexes from the Federal Housing Finance agency, Arkansas house prices rose 1.2% in the first quarter of 2017.  Over the most recent four quarters, Arkansas house prices were up 4.2%.  Over the same period, the national average for house prices increase by 6.7%

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)

The comparatively rapid pace of house prices nationwide reflects a rebound effects in the areas where prices declined the most during the market crash of 2007-11.  As shown in the following figure, that pattern holds true for the metro areas that cover parts of Arkansas.  House prices declined by over 12% in Memphis and by nearly 20% in Fayetteville from 2007 to 2011.  Those two metro areas have also seen the most rapid home-price appreciation since 2012.  Having experienced little depreciation during the period of housing price declines, Jonesboro and Texarkana have seen the highest rates of cumulative price increase since 2007.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  Seasonal Adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advanacement

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Seasonal Adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

In the most recent quarter, house prices were up in all of Arkansas’ metro areas except Little Rock, where prices are reported to have fallen by 1.0%.  Prices were down over the quarter in non-metropolitan regions of he state.  Over the past year, prices have risen most rapidly in Fort Smith and Fayetteville, and have risen most slowly in Pine Bluff and Little Rock.

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Seasonal Adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Seasonal Adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – April 2017

By , May 19, 2017 4:47 PM

In the latest data on state employment and unemployment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in Arkansas dropped by 0.1 percentage points to 3.5%, down from 3.6% in March.  Coming off of what was a record low unemployment last month, the latest unemployment rate sets a new all-time record low.  The U.S. unemployment rate also declined by 0.1 percentage points in April, declining to 4.4%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The number of unemployed declined by 911 and the number of employed increased by 7,693 in April.  The number of employed Arkansans had been slowly declining through most of 2016, but has been increasing for the first four months of 2017.  The labor force has also been expanding since January.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment was up 3,100 in April (seasonally adjusted).  Goods producing sectors added 1,200 jobs, with welcome increases in both Manufacturing and Construction.  Employment in service-providing sectors was up 1,900, with the largest gains coming in the Leisure and Hospitality Services.  Substantial increases were also reported in Transportation & Utilities, Professional & Business Services, and Education & Health Services.

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

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

Compared to April of 2016, payroll employment is up 17,900, a gain of approximately 1.5%.

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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.

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Arkansas GDP – 2016:Q4

By , May 11, 2017 4:59 PM

New data on state-level GDP was published this morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the fourth quarter, Arkansas GDP  expanded at an annual rate of 0.5%, well below the nationwide average of 1.9%.  Arkansas growth rate ranked #45 of the 50 states.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

First-published estimates of GDP are based on incomplete data and are subject to significant future revision as more information becomes available, so the relatively low growth rate in the second quarter should not necessarily be cause for alarm.  However, today’s release also included revisions to data for 2013 to-date.  For Arkansas the revisions were negative and substantial:  The cumulative revision to the level of real GDP in 2016:Q3 amounted to 2.1%.  The newly revised data show recent growth rates of GDP to be in the range of less than 1%, compared to the 2%-3% range indicated by previously published data for 2016.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Annual Data
Today’s report also represents the first estimate of the state’s GDP for 2016 as a whole.  On an annual basis, the growth rate for Arkansas’ GDP was 0.8%, compared to 1.5% for the U.S.   Arkansas’ growth rate has fallen short of U.S. growth since 2013, with the gap particularly wide in 2015 (0.2% vs. 2.6%).

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Growth by Sector
The table below details growth by sector for Arkansas and the U.S.  The relative weakness of Arkansas’ growth is clearly concentrated in goods-producing sectors.  Low energy prices have depressed mining activity both nationwide and in Arkansas.  Durable goods manufacturing growth has been positive nationwide, but manufacturing growth for both durables and nondurables has been negative here in Arkansas.   Construction activity has also been relatively weak in Arkansas.

Service providing sectors in Arkansas have performed better, in both absolute and relative terms.  Although the one-quarter growth rates in Arkansas for 2016:Q4 are generally below national averages, year-over-year measures of service sector growth compare more favorably to national growth rates.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

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Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2017:Q1

By , May 10, 2017 4:14 PM

Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) rose 0.1% in the first quarter of 2017 — up 2.1% from a year earlier.  From the end of the recession in 2009:Q2 through the first quarter of 2017, ATS has expanded at an annual rate of 2.9%.

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

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

Gasoline prices averaged $2.11 during the first quarter, up from $2.00 in the fourth quarter of 2016.  As a result, expenditures on gasoline were up 8.0% in the first quarter and were 27.7% higher than in the first quarter of 2016.  Incorporating this source of increased spending, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) increased by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2017, and were 3.3% higher than a year earlier.

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

Sources: Arkansas 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 2016:Q4 (Excel file).

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – March 2017

By , May 3, 2017 5:06 PM

New data on unemployment in Arkansas metro areas shows rates generally continuing to trend downward in March.  The exceptions were Pine Bluff and Texarkana, each of which had unemployment rates that were unchanged from February.  Elsewhere in the state, unemployment rates ticked downward by 0.1 or 0.2 percentage points.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Compared to twelve months earlier, rates are down approximately one-half of a percentage point in most of the state’s metro areas.  Unemployment in Memphis is the same as it was a year ago.  In Texarkana, the unemployment rate was on the decline through early 2016, but has edged up by one-half of a percentage point since March of 2016.  The figure below shows current rates and recent trends for unemployment rates in metro areas around the state.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Statewide nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in March.  Monthly changes in the state’s metro areas were mixed.  Fort Smith and Jonesboro both saw declines of over 1 percent.  Employment in other metro areas was up slightly.  Over the past year, Pine Bluff, Texarkana and Fort Smith have seen zero or negative employment growth, while the other MSAs have seen employment expand.  The Fayetteville metro area continues to exhibit the strongest growth in the state.

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

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

Over the longer run, employment growth trends have diverged significantly during the current economic expansion.  Fayetteville and Jonesboro have grown steadily since the end of the great recession, but other metro areas have experienced slower growth.  Among the state’s other metro areas, only Little Rock and (as of this month) Memphis have surpassed pre-recession employment levels.

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

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

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2017

By , April 21, 2017 1:06 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate set another new record low in March: 3.6%.  Having declined by 0.1 percentage point in each of the past four months, the state’s unemployment rate is now 0.9% lower than the national average.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

March’s decline in the unemployment rate was underpinned by an increase in the number of employed (+4,428) and a decline in the number unemployed (-1,240).  As a result, the participation rate was up for the second consecutive month, after declining steadily during 2016 and into the first part of this year.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in March (seasonally adjusted).  Professional and Business Services continued to show strong growth, increasing by 1,200 jobs from February to March.  Education and Health Services showed an uncharacteristic decline for the month, but remains the single largest generator of job growth among the major super-sectors over the past 12 months.  Construction employment would ordinarily be expected to increase this time of year, but the warm early spring months was associated with earlier-than-expected increases.  As a result, with not-seasonally adjusted employment unchanged in the construction sector in March, the seasonally-adjusted figures register a decline of 800 jobs.  Manufacturing continues to show signs of improvement, having added a cumulative total of 3,100 jobs over the past year.

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

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

Compared to its pre-recession level (December 2007), Arkansas employment has increased by 33,100 jobs — about 2.8% growth.  Over the same period, employment nationally has increased by 5.3%.  That long-run comparison includes a period of relatively stagnant job growth in Arkansas — from around 2011 through 2013.  More recently, Arkansas employment has tracked the national growth rate more closely: Since the end of 2013, Arkansas employment has expanded by 5.7%, compared to 6.2% nationwide.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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.

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – February 2017

By , April 5, 2017 4:58 PM

Data on unemployment rates for metropolitan areas are still in flux after recent revisions.  Today’s news release featured new information for February and revised figures for January, but the databases at the Bureau of Labor Statistics have not yet been updated with revised historical data.  We do know that the not-seasonally adjusted data shows unemployment rates lower than a year ago in six of Arkansas’ eight metro areas.  In Memphis and Texarkana unemployment rates are up slightly from February 2016 to February 2017.

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

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

Although the statewide unemployment rate ticked downward in February (to a new record low), seasonally adjusted estimates for Arkansas metro areas indicate slight increases in unemployment from January to February.  The unemployment rate in Memphis dropped by 0.4 percentage point and unemployment in Jonesboro was unchanged, but the other metro areas saw increases.  The seemingly anomalous juxtaposition might just be noise in the data or reflect idiosyncrasies of the seasonal adjustment process — stay tuned for future revisions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged or higher in all of Arkansas’ metro areas.  The two metro areas that have been growing the fastest during the current economic expansion saw significant gains:  Jonesboro was up 0.9% from January to February and Fayetteville rose 0.8%.  Texarkana, where job growth has been rather weak in recent years, saw a full percentage point increase in employment.

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

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

Only three metro areas — Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and Little Rock — have seen net increases in payroll employment since the pre-recession peak of December 2007.

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Arkansas Personal Income – 2016:Q4

By , March 28, 2017 4:46 PM

Arkansas personal income increased by 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, a slightly slower pace than the nationwide growth rate of 0.9%.  From the fourth quarter of 2015 through the end of 2016, income growth in Arkansas was 3.2%, compared to 3.7% nationwide.  Since the beginning of 2010, incomes in Arkansas have been rising at a 4.1% annual rate, slightly below the 4.3% U.S. pace.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Annual Data
The personal income report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis featured data based on 2016 annual averages.  From 2015 to 2016, personal income in Arkansas grew at a 3.2% rate — a growth rate that ranked 27th among the 50 states.  Across the country, growth rates ranged from -1.7% in Wyoming to 5.9% in Nevada.

PI-2016Q4-map

Total earnings by place of work expanded at nearly identical rates in Arkansas and the U.S. in 2016 — 4.05% and 4.06%, respectively.  The table below reports a breakdown of earnings by industry.  For both Arkansas and the nation, the sector contributing the most to earnings growth was Health care and social assistance.  Several other service sectors showed relatively strong growth as well.  The weakest sector for earnings growth was Mining — reflecting the ongoing slump in fossil fuel prices and extraction activity.  A surprisingly strong sector was Construction, which grew at a 7.3% nationwide and 5.2% in Arkansas.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Per Capita Income
With a population growth rate of 0.3 from 2015:Q5 to 2016:Q4, personal income per capita in Arkansas grew at a 2.9% rate.  U.S. population growth over the same period was 0.7%, resulting in a per capita income growth rate of 3.0%.  In the fourth quarter of 2016, U.S. per capita income stood at $50,207, while Arkansas’ was $39,725.  As a percent of the U.S., Arkansas’ per capita income ended the year at 79.1%, down slightly on net from a year earlier.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – February 2017

By , March 27, 2017 1:23 PM

The February state employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was a strong report for Arkansas overall.  The headline statistic was another decline in the state’s unemployment rate, down to 3.7%.  That represents a new record low for Arkansas’ unemployment rate, and is one full percentage point lower than the U.S. unemployment rate for February.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying data from the household survey showed that the number of unemployed Arkansans declined by over one thousand, while the number employed rose nearly 2,500.  After drifting downward for the past 10 months, the labor force increased by 1,346 in February.

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

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

With the Arkansas unemployment rate hitting new record lows, it is useful to note that changes in labor force participation rates have complicated the interpretation of the unemployment statistics.  When the state’s unemployment rate was at a cyclical low of around 5% before the 2008-09 recession, the labor force participation rate in Arkansas was as high as 64%.  The participation rate has fallen sharply since that time and is currently near 58%.  That is, the fraction of the state’s population that is employed or even looking for work now has fallen by around 5-6% over the past decade.  If the workers how have dropped out of the labor force were to be considered officially “unemployed,” the current unemployment rate would be approximately 12%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment rose sharply in February, up by 6,100 (seasonally adjusted*).  The percentage increase for the month (o.5%) was the second-fastest growth rate in the nation (Montana and Nebraska saw increases of 0.6%).  Moreover, the employment total for January was revised upward by nearly 2,000 jobs.

Job growth was distributed across a wide range of sectors.  Goods-producing sectors, in particular, had a very strong month, with Mining and Logging, Construction and Manufacturing all posting gains.  On the service-providing side, Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services continued to expand at a healthy pace.

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

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

Over the past 12 months, Arkansas payrolls have expanded by 16,300 — a growth pace of about 1.3%.  Over the same period, U.S. job growth has been around 1.6%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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.

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – January 2017

By , March 20, 2017 4:42 PM

The latest release on metro area unemployment rates included only selected data:  Revisions to historical data and seasonal factors are in progress and will be included in next month’s report.  For now, only the not-seasonally adjusted data are available.  As shown in the following figure, unemployment rates vary considerably across Arkansas metro areas.  Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and Little Rock have unemployment rates below the statewide average of 4.2%, while the remaining metro areas have rates that are above the average.

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

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

From January 2016 to January 2017, unemployment rates declined sharply in most of the state’s metro areas, with the statewide rate declining by one-half of a percentage point.  Two exceptions were Memphis and Texarkana, which experienced increases in unemployment rates over the 12-month period.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed across metro areas.  One-month changes ranged from Hot Springs (+1.6%) to Fort Smith (-1.4%).  Compared to January 2016, employment was higher in five of the eight metro areas, but was lower in Fort Smith and Texarkana.

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

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

The latest report included annual benchmark revisions to the payroll employment time series.  The underlying not-seasonally adjusted data were revised back to April of 2015, with seasonal factors revised back five years.  The revisions are summarized in the table below and displayed in the accompanying set of charts.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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