6 predictions for Arkansas' economy in 2022
Economists say that while the economy is on the upswing in many regards, the effects of the pandemic are ongoing.
Why it matters: While economists can use data to make predictions, the uncertainty of the virus could cause those predictions to be off.
Driving the news: The University of Arkansas' Center for Business & Economic Research hosted its annual business forecast on Friday.
- Panelists included Juhi Dhawan, senior managing director, partner and macro strategist for Wellington Management; David Altig, the executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.
Some key takeaways from the forecast include:
- Jebaraj predicts Arkansas will add 20,000 jobs this year. The state added 27,000 jobs in 2021 after losing 38,000 jobs in 2020, he said.
- People are leaving jobs at small businesses for jobs in big businesses.
- Wages are rising but are not keeping up with inflation.
- The state's unemployment rate is 3.1%, compared to the national rate of 3.9% at the end of 2021, which will likely continue being a double-edged sword for the state's staffing shortage woes. (Go deeper on NWA's record-low unemployment rate.)
- Pandemic-related childcare struggles including daycares shutting down and quarantines continue to disproportionately affect women in Arkansas. Fourteen percent of moms with kids under 6 years old quit their jobs in 2021 because of childcare, compared to 5% of fathers.
- Vaccinations will likely "win" the battle over COVID-19 this year, Dhawan said, speaking in terms of a global outlook.
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