Slow growth forecast for state economy in ’13

Posted: February 8, 2013 at 1:11 p.m.

— A University of Arkansas at Fayetteville economist said at the 19th annual Business Forecast luncheon Friday that the state should enjoy another year of growth in 2013.

Kathy Deck, director of the Center of Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, said that while the state is positioned to enjoy growth, it won't be enough to push the state back to pre-recession levels.

Deck said at the current employment growth, it will take at least a few years for the state to reach pre-recession levels.

"On the other hand, Northwest Arkansas is poised to continue enjoying substantial employment gains," Deck said in a Friday news release. "Construction (of both housing and highways), leisure and hospitality, retail entrepreneurship and professional service gains should help lead the way."

Deck said that in 2012, there were net job losses in the professional and business services, information, financial activities and construction sectors, but the state unemployment rate still dropped from 9.0 percent to 7.1 percent. Employment growth was modest in all the state's metropolitan areas except in the northwest, Deck said, where the overall employment grew 4.3 percent.

Deck said the state labor force is currently declining on a year-over-year basis, while the U.S. labor force is showing growth of about 1 percent.