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State employs 52,000, tops in Arkansas.

Wal-Mart Ranks Second With Almost 27,000 Workers in State

IT PROBABLY WON'T COME AS a surprise to many Arkansans that the largest employer in the state is the state itself.

State government employs more than 52,000 people in Arkansas, almost twice the number of employees for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the second largest employer with 26,903.

The average number of state employees for the first six months of 1992 was 52,420, according to Dr. John Shelnutt, a senior research specialist for the Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The average for federal employees during the same span was 22,680, third on the list.

Munro and Co., the Hot Springs-based manufacturer of shoes, and Kroger Co., the grocery store chain based in Cincinnati, Ohio, were tied for 25th in the Arkansas Business list with 2,200 employees each.

"I look at a list like this differently than most people," Shelnutt says. "I think in terms of growth and the income impact, rather than the body count of jobs. If you look at the high growth companies on the list, a lot of them are benefiting from international trade and aggressive market share expansion.

"A lot that are not on the list are rapidly expanding. If you looked lower you'd see people like Nucor that are growing percentage-wise much faster than those in the top 10."

Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. has a plant in Blytheville and is building another in northeast Arkansas.

Paper Companies Important

"From an income standpoint, the paper companies are very important," Shelnutt says, "although we are seeing this trend of significant rates of capacity expansion and new investment in Arkansas but, at the same time, layoffs occurring.

"Even though we are laying off these people, we still have outperformed the nation in the paper sector. The continued high rates of new investment will guarantee those remaining jobs in those high-wage categories for the next 10 years, probably."

Shelnutt says he doesn't expect any significant increase in employment because former Gov. Bill Clinton has been elected president.

"It's hard to envision how it would help |increase employment~ right now," he says. "I think it's up to institutions and individuals in Arkansas to make things happen. But clearly if there is any logjam in our way, he could clear it through political means.

"That was the case in Georgia with Jimmy Carter. I can't really think of any examples of what those logjams might be at this point. Perhaps road building, help with the Delta initiative or things like that."

Clinton does represent a huge free advertising campaign, Shelnutt says.

"We do have a tax in Arkansas that is earmarked for tourist advertising," he says. "You could say that some of the |Arkansas Industrial Development Commission~ budget is advertising. Just having Clinton there is worth several million dollars, on top of those budgets."

Alltel Corp., based in Little Rock, was 13th on the list with 2,959. That includes 1,238 who work for Alltel's subsidiary, Systematics Information Services Inc.

"They are both growing fast," Shelnutt said of Alltel and Systematics.

Some of the larger employers that did not make the top 25 list include Sears Roebuck & Co., with 2,100 employees in Arkansas; Riceland Foods, with 2,000; the North Little Rock School District, with 2,000; Kmart Corp, with 1,800, and J.C. Penney, with 1,629.

Arkansas' colleges and universities were not included because their workers are state employees. Federal governmental agencies such as the Little rock Air Force Base, the Pine Bluff Arsenal and the National Center for Toxicological Research also were not included separately.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jan 4, 1993
Previous Article:The Lafayette - back from the brink.
Next Article:Workers compensation putting businesses in bind.

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