by Luke Jones
Posted 4/15/2013 12:00 am
Updated 8 months ago
The top five largest employers in Arkansas have seen some bumps since last year, but they remain in the same order.
With 57,421, the state government employs about 10,000 more than the next highest on the list, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, which has 47,774. Both of those saw increases over the previous year. The only entry in the top five that has fallen is Baptist Health of Little Rock, where the workforce contracted less than 2 percent, from 7,878 to 7,737.
Some of the top 10 have shifted around. For example, Arvest Bank Group Inc. jumped up several spots with an 8 percent gain, which might be expected since it just acquired nine branches in Arkansas from Bank of America.
Very few of the companies on the list had a change of more than 5 percent from the previous year, but a few had shifts of more than 20 percent. Among them was O.K. Industries Inc., the poultry supplier in Fort Smith that was sold to a Mexican company, Industrias Bachoco S.A.B. de C.V., in 2011. After contracting after the sale — and after correcting for an incorrect figure submitted in 2012 — the company’s Arkansas workforce grew almost 30 percent over the past year.
The employment number for Lowe’s Cos. Inc. appears to jump more than 300 percent between 2012 and 2013. Lowe’s employee count for 2012 of 743 meant it didn’t appear on our print list that year.
The number for 2013 was given to Arkansas Business by a Lowe’s representative. The representative couldn’t explain the big jump between the two numbers. According to the Lowe’s website, the company has a total of 1,712 stores in the country, 20 of which are in Arkansas. CNN’s Global 500 reported in 2011 that Lowe’s had 197,500 employees total.
Arkansas Business also compiled a list of the highest paying occupations in the state, which is — not surprisingly — dominated by medical professions.
This first-ever list makes use of data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s May 2012 report called “State Occupational Employment & Wage Estimates.” The occupations are ranked by mean annual wage, but the list also shows mean hourly wages where applicable and the number of people in the state engaged in that particular occupation.
The data also offers a “location quotient” that indicates whether Arkansas has a higher or lower concentration of a specific occupation than the national average, which is represented by 1.0.
Self-employed workers are not included in the data.
According to the company’s corporate website, as of Jan. 31, Wal-Mart has 103 retail units in Arkansas. That includes 71 Supercenters, 10 discount stores, 12 Neighborhood Markets, three Express stores, seven Sam’s Clubs and 20 distribution centers. A Supercenter employs about 300 workers. The company’s average wages for regular, full-time, hourly employees in Supercenters, discount stores and Neighborhood Markets was $12.05, up from $11.87 last year. The presence of the corporate headquarters means Wal-Mart’s Arkansas headcount, 47,774, is significantly higher than in most of the bordering states: 33,905 people work for Wal-Mart in Louisiana, 40,184 in Missouri, 30,046 in Oklahoma, 22,401 in Mississippi and 37,467 in Tennessee. But everything’s bigger in Texas, where 144,761 people work for Wal-Mart.
The retailer has also spent $11.5 billion on Arkansas suppliers in its 2013 fiscal year and supported 52,107 supplier jobs, the site says.
It collected $362.6 million and paid $164.3 million in state taxes as part of transactional sales of taxable goods and services for fiscal 2012.