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Employment slowly rising in Arkansas

The pandemic brought on several challenges with employment, supply chain issues and inflation, but things are taking a turn for the better across the state.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The past few years presented challenges for many across Arkansas including business owners.

“There are a lot of other issues coming out of the pandemic, still some supply chain stuff that we're seeing, and inflation,” Owner of Root Cafe Jack Sundell said.

Sundell and his wife have owned Root Cafe for 12 years and over the past three years they said their biggest challenge has been keeping enough hands on deck.

“There were times when, no matter what we did, we could never find enough people,” Sundell said. “We're a business that actually did have to change our hours during the pandemic based on not having enough staff members at a particular time.”

Now in 2023, that has changed.

“I would say three to four months, we've finally started seeing more applications come in and just started to feel like hiring is kind of catching up to where we want it to be,” Sundell said. "We're able to be open the hours that we normally are... to be here for the hours that our customers expect us to be open."

This trend of more people in the workforce is seen across the state. The current employment rate is slowly on the rise and can be seen in a graph provided by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services.

“As employment increases and wage increases... the state ultimately benefits from that,” said Scott Hardin with the Department of Finance and Administration.

Hardin said right now the state treasury isn't hurting financially.

“Financially, we've got the largest amount of reserve funding that we've ever had,” Hardin said.

That benefits Arkansans in different ways.

“Several years ago, the top income tax rate, meaning the highest, rate, you're gonna pay is 7% on your income, due to a variety of tax cuts, that's now 4.9%,” Hardin said. “That means that Arkansans are going to keep $295 million in their pockets this year.”

With the state doing well, and businesses like the Root Cafe able to get through some challenges brought on by the pandemic, both are hopeful these trends continue.

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