Business Briefs — Arkansas, U.S. unemployment rates intersect at 7.4%


Arkansas’ jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent in July to 7.4 percent, while the U.S. unemployment rate fell two-tenths to 7.4 percent. It is the first time that state and national unemployment have intersected since April 2008 when both jobless rates stood at 5.0 percent. Since that month, the U.S. unemployment rate spiked to as high as 10 percent, while the state jobless rate climbed as high as 8.0 percent. During the recovery years since 2008-2009, Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained lower than the national rate until now.

Wal-Mart manufacturing summit promotes onshoring effort

Wal-Mart sponsored a manufacturing summit in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday aimed at recruiting jobs from overseas to the United States. The summit, part of a 10-year, $50 billion onshoring effort, included nearly 500 supplier companies, 32 state governments and major retail movers and shakers.

“Jump-starting the manufacturing industry and rebuilding the middle class requires a national effort by companies, industry leaders, lawmakers and others,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart United States. “Together, we can help spark a revitalization of U.S.-based manufacturing, using new technology and new innovations to make production in the United States affordable and feasible.”

Pilgrim’s Pride closing Batesville plant

Pilgrim’s Pride will be closing its Batesville poultry processing plant in the next 60 days, according to local economic development officials. However, a new buyer may surface. As many as 400 workers could be affected. Batesville officials said that Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers could be interested in purchasing the facility.

Former regulator: Pipelines part of U.S. energy future

Brigham McCown, former acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said while the investigation continues into the Pegasus Pipeline rupture in Faulkner County, from a policy standpoint, the nation should continue to utilize pipelines. McCown, who was in Arkansas to speak at the Clinton School of Public Service, said pipelines will continue to be the primary form of energy transportation in the U.S.

Boozman optimistic, but unsure on farm bill outcome

As a conferee on the farm bill, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., says he’s not sure about the outcome of the measure that could affect one-fifth of Arkansas’ economy.

“I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do it,” Boozman said. “This is not a Republican or Democratic thing, with the farm bill, it’s all about regional agriculture, making sure that you have a program — not one-size-fits-all, but puts the safety net in for all of our farmers.”

The committee has until Sept. 30, less than six weeks, to come up with a viable compromise before the current extension of the farm bill expires.

Car-Mart posts higher revenues, lower net income

America’s Car-Mart posted second-quarter net income of $7.53 million, down from $8.1 million one year ago. Revenues climbed to $122.54 million, well ahead of the $110.0 million earned in last year’s second quarter. Same-store revenues grew 5.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.

East Arkansas broadcasters acquiring River Valley radio group

East Arkansas Broadcasters filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday to purchase the MAX Media group of radio stations in the River Valley area, including stations in Russellville, Morrilton, Atkins and Dardanelle. The stations include “River Country 102.3” KCJC, “River hits 100.9” KWKK, classic rock “Sharpe 99.3” KVLD, and “River Talk 980” KCAB. In the Morrilton area, country station 101.7 KVOM and sports “ESPN 800” KVOM are part of the deal. With the addition of these six radio stations, EAB becomes the largest radio group in Arkansas in terms of the number of radio stations with 25 stations.

Workers’ Compensation Commission CEO departing

Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission CEO Alan McClain is leaving the state agency and will join the Workers Compensation Research Institute, an independent nonprofit based in Cambridge, Mass. McClain says he will be succeeded by James Daniel, current assistant CEO of the commission. The transition will take place on Sept. 3.

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Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net