Jan 31, 2022 - Business

6 predictions for Arkansas' economy in 2022

Illustration of a hundred-dollar bill masked by the shape of the state of Arkansas.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

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:

  1. 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.
  2. People are leaving jobs at small businesses for jobs in big businesses.
  3. Wages are rising but are not keeping up with inflation.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. Vaccinations will likely "win" the battle over COVID-19 this year, Dhawan said, speaking in terms of a global outlook.
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