Fort Smith Stays on Top of Arkansas Tech Business Index; 11 Cities Improve

by Lee Hogan  on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 10:19 am  

For the third month in a row, Fort Smith remained on top of the Arkansas Tech Business Index, according to data compiled for May.

Eleven of the 16 cities measured on the index, which offers a snapshot of the state's economy, improved their ratings from April. West Memphis saw the biggest spike, 2.91 points.

"[West Memphis'] home sales were strong," Marc Fusaro, associate professor of economics at Arkansas Tech University and ATBI developer, said. "In addition to more houses being sold than usual in West Memphis, larger houses were sold in May. The average home sale price rose from $92,000 in April to over $138,000 in May."

Fort Smith saw a considerable jump in May, 2.77 points, to 109.70. Seven other cities — Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers, Fayetteville, Conway, Jonesboro and Searcy — were also above 100.

The index takes into effect the labor, housing market, construction and retail sales indices to create a rating based on 100. A city above 100 is currently performing better than the state average between 2009 and present.

Little Rock was down 0.59 points from April to 98.48 in May.

Rogers Leads Labor Force

Fueled by an unemployment rate well below the state and national averages for the month, Rogers led the labor force index with a 107.62 rating.

According to unseasonably adjusted numbers, Rogers had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent with a labor force of 28,144. 

It was followed by North Little Rock (107.06), Springdale (105.13), Bentonville (104.8) and Searcy (104.47). North Little Rock and Searcy were the only of the top five with an unemployment rate above 5 percent, coming in at 6.1 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. 

Fort Smith, which had the highest overall index rating, was sixth in the labor force with a 102.11 rating. Hot Springs (100.45) was the only other city above 100 in the index.



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