Economist sees slow growth for state


ROGERS — Arkansas will see economic growth this year, but the recovery won’t produce enough new jobs to top pre-recession levels, a University of Arkansas economist forecast Friday.

“The forecast for Arkansas in 2013 is one of continued plodding growth — not enough strength in employment to regain our pre-recession highs over the next few years,” UA economist, Kathy Deck during the 19th annual business forecast luncheon.

Her painted a more rosy picture for Northwest Arkansas, saying the region “is poised to continue enjoying substantial employment gains,” with construction of housing and highways, leisure and hospitality, retail entrepreneurship and professional service gains leading the way.

Deck heads the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business.

Other highlights from her presentation Friday:

—Arkansas per capita personal income is growing more quickly than the national average over the past 40 years. Since 1970, per capita income in the state has grown from 69.5 percent to 81.6 percent of the U.S. average.

—Arkansas gross domestic product (GDP) is more concentrated in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, trade and transportation, management of companies, other services and government than the national average.

—Arkansas GDP is less concentrated in information, finance and real estate, professional and technical services, administrative services, and arts, entertainment and recreation than the national average.

—There were net job losses in the professional and business services, information, financial activities and construction sectors in Arkansas in 2012.

—Despite the losses, the unemployment rate in Arkansas has fallen to 7.1 percent from its post-recession high of 9.0 percent.

—The Arkansas labor force is declining on a year-to-year basis even though the U.S. labor force is growing at about 1 percent.

—Employment growth has been modest in all metropolitan areas of Arkansas except Northwest Arkansas.

—In Northwest Arkansas, no sectors had employment declines on a year-over-year basis in 2012, and overall employment grew at 4.3 percent.