Report: Manufacturing Jobs Down in Arkansas, But Draws Remain

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 1:27 pm  

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas aren't quite back to their pre-recession levels, but the state's low taxes and abundant natural resources continue to be a draw for manufacturing companies, according to a report issued by Manufacturers News Inc. of Evanston, Ill.

The MNI report says Arkansas lost 1,425 manufacturing jobs from September 2012 to September 2013, and currently is home to 3,446 manufacturers employing 195,174 workers. The full report is available for sale here.

"Manufacturers in Arkansas have yet to fully recover from the recession, and the state faces heavy competition from its neighbors,” said MNI president Tom Dubin. "However, Arkansas’ low taxes and abundant natural resources continue to be a draw for many companies."

For 2013, MNI reported slight manufacturing gains for neighboring states, including a 2.9 percent gain for Louisiana, a 2.6 percent gain for Oklahoma and a 1 percent increase for Missouri.

Food products remains Arkansas' top industrial sector, according to the report, accounting for a quarter of the state’s industrial employment (48,447 jobs) and down 1 percent in 2013.

The report noted 2013 plant closures including the Odom’s Tennessee-Pride pork plant in Little Rock and a Kraft cheese plant in Bentonville plus industry gains including the expansion of ConAgra’s frozen foods plant in Russellville and the recent opening of Ozark Mountain Poultry in a previously-shuttered Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Batesville.

Other bright spots for the state, according to MNI, included the expansion of Hino Motors in Marion and the expansion of Remington Arms’ ammunition facility in Lonoke. Sectors reporting gains included transportation equipment (up 5.8 percent), petroleum products (up 3 percent) and paper products (up 1 percent).

Other tidbits on the state of Arkansas manufacturing for 2013 from the MNI report:

  • Industrial machinery and equipment ranked second in the state with 15,711 jobs, down 2.4 percent
  • Fabricated metals was third, accounting for 15,477 jobs (down 1.8 percent
  • Additional sectors reporting losses included electronics (down 4.2 percent), stone/clay/glass (down 4 percent), rubber/plastics (down 2.4 percent), lumber/wood (down 2.1 percent) and furniture/fixtures (down 0.8 percent).
  • Northwest Arkansas accounted for 110,695 jobs, down a half percent over the year. The northeast region accounted for 37,618 jobs, with no significant change reported. Southwest Arkansas is home to 30,962 industrial workers, down a half percent, while the southeast is home to 15,899 jobs.
  • Springdale currently ranks as the state’s top city for manufacturing employment, home to 13,731 jobs, down 1 percent over the year. Little Rock ranks second with 11,760 jobs (down 7.7 percent). Fort Smith accounts for 11,586 industrial jobs, down 1.3 percent, while industrial jobs in Conway rose 2.2 percent to a total of 7,145 jobs. Rogers is the state's fifth-ranked manufacturing city, home to 6,783 industrial jobs (down 2.4 percent).



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