U.S. growth rate highest in ten years; Arkansas economy also looking up | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

U.S. growth rate highest in ten years; Arkansas economy also looking up

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Big economic news this morning from the U.S. Commerce Department: The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, meaning July through September. That's the fastest economic growth seen in any one quarter since 2003. The figure was revised upward from an earlier estimate of 3.9 percent growth for the quarter.

At the risk of sounding like a broken, gloating record: This is what the U.S. economy looks like one year after the implementation of Obamacare. This is the foretold "total economic collapse of America."

And, from Arkansas Business, this is what two of the state's leading economists see happening in Arkansas in the coming year:

“We’re beginning to see things pick up a little bit in Arkansas again — not quite the pace of the United States, but we’re seeing many of the sectors in Arkansas doing well,” said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas’ Walton College of Business. “I feel like Arkansas is poised for a reasonably good 2015. That assumes that the domestic economy does what I expect it to do and chugs along as well.”

One of the highlights will be a continued decline in the state’s unemployment rate, which reached a high-water mark of 8.2 percent in October 2011. It was 7.5 percent at the end of 2013 and projected to be 6 percent at the end of 2014, according to an Oct. 15 report by Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. (In fact, it reached 6 percent in October, according to the state Department of Workforce Services.)

The unemployment rate is expected to continue to drop to 5.5 percent by the end of 2015 and then slip to 5.3 percent in 2016, the report said.

Yep. You can see that the utter economic devastation that's been wrought by Obamacare in Arkansas, where we've insured over 200,000 people via the private option expansion of Medicaid made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Sarcasm aside, there are at least three big caveats to this very good news. The first is purely economic: there are still plenty of troubled areas in the global economy, including chronic problems in the Eurozone and recent monetary tremors in Russia. Second, there are big picture questions of widening inequality and mostly stagnant incomes for much of the American workforce, and the fact that there are millions of long-term unemployed Americans (among them, hundreds of thousands of Arkansans) who have few job prospects on the horizon, 5 percent growth or not. The NYT's Upshot blog has an especially good series about the structural dilemma of long-term unemployment and the growing underclass of workers — especially men — who have been left behind by the economy.

Third, as welcome as it is in general, higher growth also means more carbon output, especially when coupled with plunging oil prices. That makes implementation of the White House plan to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants even more urgent.

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