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Is a recession in our near future? Arkansas economists weigh in

A number of forecasters are putting the idea of a recession on the table as interest rates and inflation continues to climb.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Is a recession in our future?

That's what a number of forecasters are questioning right now, as interest rates and inflation continue to climb. 

Economists across the country have differing opinions, which is why we went to our local experts to pick their brains. 

"I don't think it's the kind of thing that should keep you up late at night," Michael Pakko, an economist with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said.

If you're losing sleep over the future of your wallet, experts said you can rest easy for now.

"I don't think there's a reason for individual families to panic," Jeremy Horpedahl, an assistant economics professor at the University of Central Arkansas, said. 

While high inflation and high-interest rates may seem like a recipe for a recession, Pakko said it's premature.

"I think that the statistics that have been leading some people to have a dire outlook for the near future don't really have the weight that convinces me that it's a real danger," he said.

Those stats Pakko is referring to is the GDP Report for the first quarter, which dropped by 1.4%. 

He said that number was heavily impacted by Americans buying more foreign products since our supply chain is still trying to catch up.

"It doesn't really indicate weakness, quite the contrary, it shows that consumers were actually spending at the same pace that they have been," Pakko said.

Despite inflation hitting a 40-year high, consumers continue to swipe their cards which Horpedahl said we need to keep doing.

"People are starting to spend more, not only on, you know, going out to eat or things like that, but also travel and people are looking at summer vacations, so all that's looking great now," he said.

Another thing that's on our side is unemployment rates, both nationally and here in Arkansas, which is below 4%.

While you can't ask for anything better, Horpedahl said there's still some room to grow.

"Maybe a tenth of the people that exited the labor force in the past few years just haven't come back, and no one's really sure exactly why, but that's something if that doesn't come back, that's another thing I would look for," he said.

Even though it's an uncertain time, Horpedahl believes our state is in a good spot compared to our neighbors, and people should worry about the now; instead of the future.

"Even though our economy is doing well, our unemployment rate is at historic lows, that inflation aspect of it is still, I think, what most people should worry about," he said.

Both economists added it's always a good idea to be prepared for any kind of economic downturn. This means always having savings in place.

    

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