Tue, Jun 7, 2022 1:27 PM
By Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square
Arkansas has one of the ten worst state economies in the United States, according to a new report.
WalletHub, a website focused on personal finance, analyzed the best and worst state economies by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 economic performance indicators and strengths.
Arkansas’ economy ranked 43rd with a total score of 35.88 out of 100.
The report looked at three categories: Economic activity, economic health, and a state’s innovation potential.
Arkansas ranked 35th in the nation for its economic activity. This category specifically looked at change in GDP from 2020 to 2021, share of fast-growing firms, state gross public debt as a percent of GDP, exports per capita and startup activity. Arkansas was among the five states that had the fewest exports, according to the report.
The state’s economic health came in 22nd place and included unemployment rate, change in civilian labor force, median annual household income adjusted for cost of living, fiscal health and other indicators.
Among the three main categories, Arkansas had the lowest ranking in innovation potential, where it placed 45th. Innovation potential evaluated share of jobs in high-tech industries, share of jobs in STEM employment, and entrepreneurial activity.
Experts cited in the report said that if states want to attract highly skilled workers to grow their economies, they must offer communities a high quality of life at a reasonable cost.
“They want their communities to have great schools, thriving employment opportunities, public safety, plus accessibility to get into the central city for a concert or out to a lake for a day on the water,” said Gregory Burge, chair and economics professor at the University of Oklahoma. “States that want to retain their top talent - and attract others to migrate in - should work to improve their public education and health programming - and should provide business leaders opportunities to thrive. Providing high-quality infrastructure to serve both the private and public sector is also critical.”
Arkansas’ unemployment rate was 3.2% in April, with an estimated 43,000 people unemployed. Over 8,000 people filed unemployment insurance claims in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
No state in the report scored above the 70s. Washington state received the top score at 73.83. Utah, California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire rounded out the top five state economies.
At the low end were Oklahoma, Hawaii, Louisiana, Alaska, and West Virginia.