Two Steps Forward, One Back


Two Steps Forward, One Back

Last week’s economic news was of the motion sickness-inducing two steps forward, one step back kind.

↑ ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith reported second-quarter profit of more than $17 million, triple that of a year earlier. Earnings per share were the best in six years. ArcBest, formerly Arkansas Best Corp., said ABF Freight, its biggest subsidiary, benefitted from a labor agreement reached with the Teamsters in 2013 and the consolidation or closing of 30 terminals in the past six months.

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↓ On the other hand, ArcBest, tempted by a $4 million economic development grant, is apparently moving its ABF Freight Systems operations from North Little Rock to Memphis.

↑  USA Truck of Van Buren reported its first profitable quarter since 2011, with net income of $700,000, or 7 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

↓ But Superior Industries International of Van Nuys, California, announced it plans to close its manufacturing plant in Rogers, eliminating 500 jobs in a cost-cutting move.

↑  On the same day, Zilkha Biomass Energy of Houston announced that it would build a $90 million facility in Monticello, creating 52 jobs.

↓ And then the Southwest Times Record of Fort Smith said 37 employees would be laid off when its owner, Stephens Media, moves printing and mailroom operations for the daily paper and six weekly papers to facilities in Springdale and Lowell, a step reflecting the continuing cost-cutting pressure felt by media properties.

↑  Finally, gross domestic product in the U.S. rose in the second quarter at an annual rate of 4 percent, a huge improvement after its first-quarter showing, when GDP fell 2.1 percent.

Moving two steps forward, one step back may be dizzying, but it’s still progress.