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Report: Arkansas Consumer Sentiment at Highest in 2 Years

2 min read

As the nation’s economy expanded this summer, Arkansans reported feeling more confident than at any time in the past two years, according to the fall 2016 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey released Tuesday.

The current consumer sentiment index for Arkansas is 86.7, up from 84.9 in March and significantly higher than the 77.8 reported in September 2015, the report said. It’s the highest index score for the state since this survey began in spring 2014.

In Arkansas, consumer opinion as surveyed in August ranked higher than the regional reading of 85.6.

“In August 2016, the Arkansas unemployment rate was among the lowest in the United States, even as the national economic expansion continued,” said the survey’s lead economist, Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas. “Unsurprisingly, consumer sentiment in Arkansas was at its highest measured level since the inception of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Index. Moreover, the increase in sentiment was widespread in families with both higher and lower incomes.”

Researchers conduct 1,200 random phone and online surveys twice a year to produce the results, which show sentiment in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Among families who earn more than $75,000 a year in income, sentiment increased from 86.3 in March to 95.6 in August. The biggest gain was among respondents with a bachelor’s degree, whose sentiment increased from 85.8 in March to 96.9 in August.

“Arkansans pay attention to the economic signs in their communities and those signs are positive,” said Jim Cargill, president and CEO of Arvest Bank in central Arkansas. “They’re encouraged by job opportunities and business and construction growth, all of which gives them confidence about their personal financial prospects. As always, we are prepared to help with any needs Arkansans may have.”

The current regional index for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri — including Greater Kansas City — is 85.6, up from March’s index of 83.4. This regional increase is in contrast to the national index, as reported by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, which dipped from 90.0 in March to 89.8 in August.

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