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back-work“Our economy is soft and may take several years to regain its past vitality,” while Conway unemployment is also higher, says long-time business statistician Roger Lewis after analyzing the past year’s local economic data.

In the year ending October 2013, unemployment is the U.S. dropped .5%, however, in Conway unemployment increased .9%.  Says Lewis,

“These are not comforting figures and they are not restricted to a one-year analysis.

Unless there is a sharp decline in unemployment figures in November and December, Conway’s unemployment rate for 2013 will be the highest in 20 years.

Lewis has analyzed the business climate in Conway and Faulkner County for years, and his analysis shows many segments of Conway’s economy are lagging:

Residential and commercial construction is down more than 30% from the same period in 2012, and single-family residential building permits are down 18%.  Sales tax collections are flat, increasing less than .5% through September 2013, while hotel sales are up only a fraction of a percent from last year.

Lewis cites also that restaurant sales are up less than 2% and Hewlett Packard, Southwest Energy and Acxiom reported significant lay-offs in Conway during 2013. But he doesn’t really factor in the lower price of natural gas, which has greatly reduced the flow of cash going through Conway from those oil and gas leases that buoyed our economy a few years ago.

Lewis’ report confirms the non-existent “recovery” has finally caught Conway up in its tailwind.  Residents should buckle up their wallets; there may be a rough ride ahead as Conway struggles to find more revenue to support the flagrant spending on non-essentials from our recent past.