Arkansas' Diversification Blunts Effects of U.S. Recession

by Mark Hengel  on Monday, Jan. 19, 2009 12:00 am  

"We clearly can reap serious gains by investments in education or infrastructure, because we are not at the head of the pack," she said.

The state could see greater gains coming out of the current recession, Shelnutt said. Arkansas rebounded well after the recession in the early 1990s, based in large part on food processing. The sector employed many Arkansans. However, while many found jobs, the jobs did not bring a noticeable jump in incomes.

Arkansas' recent wave of economic development announcements provides an advantage. Many of the companies, such as Caterpillar Inc., which decided to open a 600-employee factory in North Little Rock, will offer higher wages than food processing, Shelnutt said.

"We have a better chance of showing a greater difference on the income side rather than just the headcount side," he said.

Despite Arkansas' current insulation from national economic trends, residents should not get too excited, Deck said.

"We might not be feeling the recession as acutely, but we are still 48th in per capita income." 



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