Study Chronicles Rural Manufacturing Decline In Arkansas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 7 views 

Malcolm Glover with our content partner, KUAR-FM 89 News, talks with Dr. Wayne Miller, an economist with the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture.

Miller’s new report, Rural Profile of Arkansas 2013, highlights how many manufacturing jobs in small towns have been shipped overseas in recent years.

Miller admits those jobs will probably never return, not as a result of the recent recession, but because of long-term structural changes occurring in rural Arkansas.

“I think there is a lot of opportunities for job growth in rural Arkansas, but it requires a change in our thinking away from trying to recruit some firm to come in and provide jobs for the residents in the region and looking at what we have locally and how we can use those resources to create products that people want to buy,” said Miller.

The study comes as Arkansas is working to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs. In the past week, more industry layoffs have been announced at Pilgrim’s Pride in Batesville and Munro Shoe Co. in Mt. Ida.

Wal-Mart is leading an effort to “onshore” manufacturing jobs as part of a $50 billion, ten-year commitment.

Miller’s report on rural Arkansas also pointed out:

  • Arkansas lost nearly 63,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2010, which has greatly affected the economic base of rural areas.
  • The state lost 29 percent of its manufacturing employment over this time period compared to a 28 percent loss nationwide.
  • All three rural regions had a net loss of manufacturing jobs during this eight-year period. Jobs in other sectors were not created in sufficient quantity to replace the lost manufacturing jobs in the rural areas.
  • Rural areas had lower earnings per job than urban areas, and the gap widened slightly. Rural areas had average earnings per job of only 81 percent of the average urban earnings in 2010, compared to 83 percent in 2000. In 2010, nearly one-fourth of the jobs in rural areas were either in farming, forestry or manufacturing compared to about one-tenth in urban areas.

You can access the full report at this link.