Economy is looking up

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-An Economic Outlook Conference took place on Wednesday at the Cooper Alumni Center at Arkansas State University.

Around seventy people filled the room to listen to three different speakers.

Each one focusing on a different economic issue.

Director of the Center for Economic Education and Professor of Economics at Arkansas State University, Gary Latanich, says people often confuse business and the economy as the same thing.

"Economics and business are two different things. If you're a business man you understand revenue and cost for your particular entity. But at the macro level things are very different. What works for one person individually doesn't necessarily work at the national level. To understand how the nation functions, you really have to hear a totally different story."

Michael Pakko is the State Economic Forecaster and one of the speakers at the conference.

Pakko spoke to audience members about Arkansas economy and compared it to trends taking place nationwide.

"My perspective is that we're firmly in the period of economic expansion, now, both nationwide and in Arkansas. When we compare economic conditions with the nation, Arkansas is poised to recover with and even maybe a little ahead of the curve."

Latanich says one problem is people not understanding what's going on and only viewing things from their own personal perspective.

"Most people see things from their particular viewpoint. So, for individuals who are doing very well, they fail to see there's a problem. For others who haven't found work in years, they have a hard time understanding why the government doesn't do more to help. That's why something like this conference is so important. We need to take a look at what the bigger picture is."

Pakko says it's hard for people to see things getting better when so many are still out of work.

"If you look at things like personal income growth or retail sales growth, things are looking up and we're five to six percent above where we were last year. So, we really are in a period of economic growth. It's just the increase in employment has not kept pace."

So what does Pakko suggest?

"the biggest thing is to have some patience with the employment situation. Over the past twenty years we've seen a change in the business cycle where employment is the last indicator to turn around. We're seeing the same pattern again, this time. And because the job losses were so severe it does impose a lot of hardship, but I think we're seeing signs of turn around now and it's likely to continue."

For more information about this conference, log onto their website.

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