Friday, September 16, 2016

Arkansas: More working for less, but at least the houses are cheap

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 7:06 AM

KATHY DECK: When she's right, she's right.
  • KATHY DECK: When she's right, she's right.
David Smith's report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning on the state's drop to second-to-last in U.S. median income contained a nugget of truth worthy of highlighting.

Michael Pakko, the conservative economist at UALR, dismissed our significant departure from the rest of the country in rising prosperity. He said the low cost of living in Arkansas (housing particularly) increases purchasing power and offsets the poor wages.

Then came Kathy Deck, the business establishment's favorite economist, generally a reliable cheerleader, particularly for the Northwest Arkansas quadrant where her Walton benefactors are based.

She said the drop was "obviously" not good news. Then the money quote from Deck, emphasis supplied:

"The cost of living can't be discounted but generally cost of living is higher in places where people have indicated they want to be."
Non-economist Max Brantley observes: Less is less.

If income here rose only 1.7 percent while the national rate increased by more than double that amount, at 3.8 percent, our historically unprecedented work force didn't share the benefit of an economy that apparently made it worthwhile for business to add jobs. With inflation scant and interest rates continuing to be low, you might even  favor the opinion  that somebody must be getting richer in Arkansas,  it just isn't the average worker.

Which is just the way the chamber of commerce here has always liked it.  Poor at the worker level but friendly to business owners.

I'll leave it to frequent contributor Norma Bates to compile a more exhaustive list of reasons why Arkansas might be lower on the list of places people are anxious to live. I'd start with legalized discrimination; disdain for environmental protection, and second-class status, in law and business practice, for people who make up more than slightly half of the state's population (women).

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