EDITORIALS>>Still down and out
There is a caveat: that word percentage. In the second quarter of the year, personal income in Arkansas grew by 1.6 percent, compared with only 1.2 percent for the nation as a whole. Every couple of years since the Commerce Department began publishing the income and gross domestic product figures by states, Arkansas newspapers have picked up on a higher growth rate for the state. The state Chamber of Commerce often forecast future parity with the rest of the nation as the trend continued.
In fact, rather than catching up, the state was often falling farther behind. If you start with a very low base even a small dollar increase in per-capita income from one year or quarter to the next can loom large compared with the growth in a state with a much higher base, like Connecticut, even though growth in the other state might have been more robust. The chamber finally caught on and no longer calls attention to the encouraging percentages.
Arkansasís per-capita personal income is about 75 percent of the national average, slightly less than it was three years ago. Each year, Arkansas is either 47th or 48th among the states in per-capita income, just about where it was 50 years ago. Its per-capita income growth has exceeded the national average, percentagewise, most years since 1981. But Arkansas was about $2,500 behind the national average that year and now it is about $8,000 behind. So there is not much to cheer about, except that the agricultural sector is making a little more headway than in much of the country, accounting for much of the quarterly gain.
The chancellor may be right about us. We need the Razorbacks. Go Hogs. Beat Kentucky.