New manufacturing jobs are coming to Rogers thanks to the Wal-Mart Stores initiative to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
Wal-Mart, state and city officials plan to reveal on Monday (Oct. 7) details about a “new supplier manufacturing and distribution facility” in Rogers. The announcement is set for 11 a.m. at the John Q Hammons Center in Rogers. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., are expected to participate in the announcement.
Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, told The City Wire in early September that Arkansas was close to landing two manufacturing companies in the plastics extrusion/molding sector.
Tennille said both operations “do a lot of high-volume work” for Bentonville-based Wal-Mart. He also said there will be a “relatively smaller number of jobs” with the two deals, but they are “good-paying jobs.” He also said the jobs number could grow if and when the companies move more of their operations to the U.S.
Wal-Mart officials announced on Jan. 15, 2013, a pledge to purchase in the next 10 years an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods. Company officials have said they hope to boost U.S. manufacturing – often referred to as “onshoring” – by purchasing more sporting goods, apparel basics, storage products, paper products, textiles, furniture and higher-end appliances.
Beebe was one of eight state governors to attend the “U.S. Manufacturing Summit” in Orlando, Fla., that was held Aug. 22-23. The event connected economic development officials from 36 states with about 600 Wal-Mart suppliers and retail vendors.
The Arkansas and the U.S. manufacturing sectors have been hit hard in the past several decades.
Historically, U.S. manufacturing sector employment has ranged between 19 million and 17 million. It reached a high of 19.553 million jobs in June 1979. Sector employment has been stuck below 12 million since May 2009. Prior to May 2009, the last time sector employment was below 12 million was May 1941.
Arkansas’ manufacturing sector appeared to find a bottom and entered a 14-month period (April 2010-May 2011) in which employment remained above the 160,000 level. By early 2012, sector employment resumed its decline. May and June of 2013 marked the first time employment in the sector was consecutively below the 155,000 level.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 154,700 manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during August 2013. Employment in the sector is down 24.2% compared to August 2003, and is down more than 37% compared to the sector high of 247,300 set in February 1995.
Arkansas’ three largest metro areas have seen double-digit percentage declines in manufacturing job levels in the past 10 years. Jobs in the sector are down 23% in central Arkansas, down 34.16% in the Fort Smith region, and down 20.8% in Northwest Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas had an estimated 27,000 manufacturing jobs during August 2013, unchanged compared to July and up over the 26,800 in August 2012.