Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Guess NW Arkansas Isn’t Bulletproof After All…

By now everyone has heard about Walmart cutting 700 to 800 jobs at the home office in a restructuring move. This has come as a big surprise to a lot of people including me, and I’m worried about a “chilling” effect that this could have on the local economy.

As the national media proclaim doom and gloom stories about job losses, increased unemployment rates, and yet more economic stimulus measures, we thought we weren’t as bad off as other parts of the country. Walmart and other large corporate employers in NW Arkansas have provided job growth here—smaller than in past years, but at least positive growth.

The other thing is that a discount store like Walmart usually does better when times are tough as they are now. Thus we thought this would keep our area “safe” from what’s happening elsewhere. So to have even Walmart cut 5% of their positions here is significant, and could affect the already suffering housing market.

The perceptions that the economy here isn’t as robust as people thought and that there may not be as many jobs available, may prevent new people from moving here and purchasing homes. On the other hand, some of those 700 people may have difficulty finding new jobs here and selling their homes to move elsewhere. Thus the chilling effect is magnified as the number of months of housing inventory increases at a time when sales are down compared to previous years.

For me as a Realtor® I’m disappointed. Yes, Walmart may be fiscally responsible to its shareholders, but when someone you know is one of those 700 people the negative effect is felt even more sharply. I just found out that a client of mine, a nice young man to whom I have sold a home and who was going to get married in a few months, was one of those laid off. He is, of course, devastated, and trying to take stock of his situation.

Ultimately the effect of these job cuts probably can’t be measured. But the actual as well as psychological chill this has caused locally goes beyond news reports on the situation. Only time will get us out of this economic mess.

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