The majority of Arkansans, according to a recent Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, say they have not made major household purchases in the past six months and about a quarter of Arkansans surveyed want to increase their savings rate.
According an Arvest Bank survey released Tuesday, Arkansans are saving about 9.5 percent of their earnings. Families with incomes of more than $75,000 save about 15 percent, and families with incomes less than $75,000 save about 7 percent.
Kathy Deck, director of The Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, said the findings show that the majority of working families in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have not seen the economic recovery being reported in other parts of the country.
Deck said she was interested to see consistent numbers across the region with incomes, debt loads, spending and expectations, but does not see any indication their economic situations will change much over the foreseeable future. Deck was the lead economist for the survey.
Mike Jacimore, senior vice president and sales manager at Arvest Bank Fort Smith/River Valley region, said the survey provided an "economic snapshot" of the region to gauge consumer sentiment and he is encouraged to see many people choosing to save for the future.
Families with children reported saving 7.5 percent and families without children reported saving 9.5 percent. The overall regional savings rate overall is 11.6 percent, while the overall rate for Missouri is 11.7 percent and 13.1 percent for Oklahoma.
In Arkansas, 23 percent of respondents of the Arvest survey taken in June and July said they want to increase their savings rate over the next six months. The regional rate was 17 percent, and only 15 percent reported wanting to do the same in Missouri and Oklahoma. The majority of respondents planned to keep their current savings rates over the next six months.
About 65 percent reported that they had not made major household purchases in the past six months. Major household purchases were defined as furniture, a television, refrigerator or other large items. That compares with 62 percent of Missouri respondents and 57 percent of Oklahoma respondents who did not make a major household purchase in the past six months.
Arkansans’ consumer debt was divided among several categories and measured in line with the consumer debts of respondents in Missouri and Oklahoma. Within the region, consumer debt was divided among these categories: 37 percent reported mortgage debt, 6 percent reported home equity debt, 28 percent reported auto loans, 31 percent reported credit card debt and 11 percent reported student loans.
About one-third of the region’s respondents, 33 percent, reported having no current consumer debt. In Arkansas, 37 percent of respondents have mortgage debt, 30 percent have auto loans, 11 percent have student loans and 34 percent claimed to have no debt.
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the UA. The University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducted the 1,200 phone surveys.
The survey and indexes follow the model of the national Survey of Consumers produced by the University of Michigan.
"Arvest Bank’s sponsorship of this survey is due to its desire to provide beneficial data for its customers and communities," a news release states. "Because consumers drive the majority of economic activity, it is important to simply know where people in the state stand in their views. ."
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey will be conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to be completed in November. Information about the survey and research partners, copies of this release, summary documents and print-ready logos can be found at www.arvestconsumersurvey.com.