In addition to our statewide Arkansas Consumer Confidence Report, Talk Business also oversees a regional survey in western Arkansas for our content partner, The City Wire.
The latest quarterly survey shows a worsening attitude on local economic conditions — a sizable 7% jump from last quarter, which was already pretty pessimistic.
Our Dec. 6 survey shows that 57% of Fort Smith residents believe local economic conditions will get worse in the next 12 months, compared to 50.5% three months ago.
Of course, news of Whirlpool’s impending plant closure occurred between the two surveys and is a certain reason for the negative trend. More than 1,000 direct jobs and several hundred indirect jobs are likely to be affected by the refrigerator factory’s shutdown.
Also of interest, while attitudes on personal finances are very low — just 10.5% thinking they will improve in the next year — that number is statistically unchanged from last quarter. One could argue that many area residents may view the Whirlpool closure in an extremely negative light, but it may not affect them personally.
On a positive note, despite the survey data, Fort Smith residents spent more in the last quarter based on sales tax revenue, which was up 3% during the quarter versus the previous year.
Read more from The City Wire here.