News & Media
The numbers for the state's fiscal year are in, and, I am happy to report, the numbers are strong.
We finished the year with a surplus of more than $40 million, and we set aside additional savings in a long-term reserve fund.
The annual growth was the result of a 4.6 percent increase in individual income and a 3.4 percent increase in the collection of sales tax. In other words, more people in Arkansas are working, wages are up, and consumers are spending. All of this shows we have confidence in the future.
This is also the result of a conservative approach on the spending side of the ledger. As a state, we are spending our money wisely, and reducing the size of government where we can without cutting out essential services.
The numbers tell us that Arkansans are working, and that business in Arkansas is booming.
The latest figures from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission show that 72,500 more Arkansans are employed than in January 2015.
Arkansas’s unemployment rate has remained at or below the national average for 38 consecutive months and currently stands at 3.8 percent.
For several months last year, the unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, which is the lowest in the history of Arkansas.
Since January 2015, the Economic Development Commission has signed incentive agreements with 380 new and expanding companies in the state.
These 380 projects have produced approximately 14,500 new jobs in Arkansas.
These companies have infused our economy with $8 billion in new capital investment.
The average wage for the new jobs is over $20 per hour, which is an annual salary of approximately $43,000.
This is the second year we have had a budget surplus. Last year, the surplus was $15 million.
I also mentioned we have set up a long term reserve fund. This is money we have set aside for a time when the economy might not be as strong as it is today. This is money that can pave the way for future tax cuts, which will make us more competitive with our surrounding states. This is a great opportunity for us to increase the amount of money in our long-term reserve fund, which now has a balance of more than $120 million.
Arkansas’s economy is at a good place, and our budget for next year will continue our trend of careful spending, wise streamlining, and ever-improving efficiency.