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    Arkansas Business: Economic optimism in northwest Arkansas

    5:57 AM, Mar 11, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks continue their record run on Friday. The Dow continues to move higher on Friday after breaking its all-time record on Tuesday.

    Friday's action was fueled by better-than-expected jobs numbers from the government.

    In all, the Dow logged its sixth straight increase on Friday.

    More U.S. jobs added in February

    This, after the Labor Department said U.S. employers added 236,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.

    That's far better than the 156,000 job gains that economists had expected.

    The strong job growth indicates that employers are confident about the economy despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.

    Economic optimism in northwest Arkansas

    Here in Arkansas, some economic optimism in the northwest corner of the state.

    An anecdotal report by area chambers of commerce show businesses there expecting nearly 1,000 new jobs and more than $800 million in expansion over the next three years.

    The Northwest Arkansas Council released the report late last week.

    The results were gathered from interviews with more than 450 area companies ranging from one-person businesses to international companies like Wal-Mart.

    Study authors arrived at the jobs and expansion figures based on anecdotal evidence from respondents. Those respondents also cited areas of regional strength and weaknesses.

    The survey identified business climate and quality of life as top community strengths, and areas of improvement included infrastructure and a lack of skilled labor.

    Negotiations continue between transportation companies

    And finally, negotiations between ABF Freight System Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will resume next week.

    Both entities saying they're getting closer to reaching an agreement.

    Currently the Teamsters and ABF are operating under the National Master Freight Agreement and 15 supplemental contracts.

    Following a Jan. 7 meeting the two sides were "far apart." ABF said in January it was seeking a single contract to help lower expenses related to the company's 7,500 Teamster employees across the country.

    ABF is a subsidiary of Fort Smith's Arkansas Best Corp.

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