Arkansas consumer sentiment is up slightly in Arvest Bank's most recent survey, but it's still lower than surrounding states and considerably lower than the national outlook on the economy.
Arvest's consumer sentiment index in Arkansas was up to 68.1 in October from 67.4 in June. That still trails Missouri (77.4) and Oklahoma (72.6). Missouri saw a more than 10-point jump from 68.6 in June, while Oklahoma fell 3.8 points from 76.4 in the first survey. The three-state region was up to 72.6 from 71.4 in June.
The national index, compiled by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, was 86.9 in October, up from 82.5 in June.
"Just as national consumers expressed more positive attitudes in October than in June, Arkansans also reported feeling a bit better about current economic conditions and the longer term outlook," Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas, and the lead economist of the survey, said in a news release.
"Sentiment is strongest among the young and well-educated, so as the Arkansas workforce shifts in those directions, we expect to see more upbeat numbers."
Consumer Index Down in Both of Arkansas' Income Brackets
While the consumer sentiment was up among all respondents in Arkansas, it was down in both income categories.
In families with a household income less than $75,000, the index was down to 61.8 from 62.6 in June. In households with more than $75,000 of income, the index dropped more than 10 points to 71.9 from 82.2 in June.
In the three-state region, sentiment was up to 1.8 points to 67.6 in families with an income less than $75,000, and was up 2.9 points in families above the $75,000 threshold.
In Missouri, the sentiment index was up 6.1 points to 65.3 in families below the $75,000 mark, and up 7.5 points to 87.3 in families above it. In Oklahoma, the index fell 2.2 points to 64.7 in families making less than $75,000 and fell 3.3 points in families making more than $75,000.
Arkansas Millennials Optimistic About Economy
After having the lowest sentiment rating by age subgroup in June, the 18-24 crowd jumped more than 35 points to an index rating of 92.4 in October.
It was the largest jump by any age subgroup in the three-state region.
In Arkansas, as a respondent's age increased, the optimism decreased. The 25-44 age group was the only other subgroup with an increase from June, up 0.9 points to 74.8. The 45-64 group was down 7 points to 61.1, while the 65-year-old and above group was down 5.6 points to 56.7.
Across the three-state region, the 18-24 age group was up 16.4 points to 89.7, the 25-44 group was up 0.9 points to 79.2, the 45-64 group was down -5.2 points to 64.1, and the 65 and up group was up 1 point to 64.4.
In Missouri, the sentiment of millennials was up 30.4 points to 93.9, the 25-44 group was up 7.3 points to 85.6, the 45-64 group was down -2.2 points to 66.3, and the 65 and above group was up 9.7 points to 70.
Millennials in Oklahoma were the only ones to feel less optimistic, as the index dropped 8.2 points to 83.7. All age groups were down in Oklahoma, as the 25-44 group fell 4.3 points to 77.7, the 45-64 group was down 6.5 points to 64.7 and the 65 and above group was down 0.2 points to 67.6.
College Graduates in Arkansas More Optimistic
Those with a bachelor's degree in Arkansas were the only ones to feel more optimistic about the economy, compared to previous results in June.
The group jumped 13.7 points to 74.5 in October. Those with a high school diploma or less had a sentiment rating of 57.4, down 3.4 points from June. Those with a graduate degree had a sentiment rating of 75.9, down 5.8 points from June.
In the region, sentiment was up 7.5 points to 83.6 among college graduates, and up 0.6 points to 85.9 among those with graduate degrees. Respondents with a high school diploma or less had a sentiment rating of 63.3, down 0.7 points from June.
In Missouri, sentiment was up across the board. Those with a high school diploma or less had sentiment rating of 61.2, up 3 points from June. Those with a graduate degree also had a sentiment rating up 3 points from June to 87 in October. Respondents with a bachelor's degree saw the largest jump, up 4 points to 76.8.
In Oklahoma, graduate degree holders were the only to see an increase in sentiment, up 6.8 points to 83.6. Those with a high school diploma or less had a sentiment rating of 61.5, down 3.3 points from June, and those with bachelor's degree had a sentiment rating of 77.4, down 0.9 points from June.
The survey also provided numbers for respondents by presence of children, employment status and homeownership status.
In Arkansas, those with children had a sentiment rating of 72.9, up 3.4 points from June, while those without children had a sentiment rating of 59.7, down 6.7 points. Arkansans with children trailed the sentiment of Missouri respondents, who had a rating of 80. Arkansans without children had the lowest sentiment rating of the region, trailing both Oklahoma (68.4) and Missouri (69.9).
In the employment subgroup, employed Arkansans had the lowest sentiment rating (67.7) in the region. It was down 4.1 points from June. Unemployed Arkansans had the highest sentiment rating in the region (66.5), up 9.2 points from June. Those not in the labor force had a sentiment rating of 60.1, down 2.7 points, which trailed both Oklahoma (61.7) and Missouri (69.3).
Arkansas homeowners also had the lowest sentiment rating (62.7) of the region, trailing Oklahoma at 69.8 and Missouri at 72.2. The sentiment rating was down 3.4 points among Arkansas homeowners. Arkansas renters had a more favorable sentiment rating, up 2.6 points from June to 66. Still, it trailed those in others in the region, Oklahoma at 67.9 and Missouri at 74.8
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business & Economic Research, twice a year. The University of Oklahoma's Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducts 1,200 phone surveys, which are then analyzed by institutions in the three-state region.
At a later date, Arvest will provide additional information on the October survey, including consumer outlook for the near future and plans for saving and spending.
The next survey will be conducted in May 2015.