UA Report: Northwest Arkansas Economy Outgrows Peer Regions

by Mark Carter  on Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 10:37 am  

The northwest Arkansas economy outgrew similar regions in 2011 and 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Arkansas.

The 2013 State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam Walton College of Business was released in partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Council.

It says employment in northwest Arkansas grew by 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, outpacing peer regions, the state and the nation, while the number of new businesses and the region's gross domestic product grew as well.

Read the full report here

Key findings from the report include:

  • At 3 percent, the pace of employment growth in northwest Arkansas between 2011 and 2012 was almost twice as fast as the national rate and five times faster than employment growth in the state of Arkansas.
  • In 2011 and 2012, the number of businesses established in the region grew slowly after declining in 2009 and 2010.
  • When compared to competitor regions, northwest Arkansas was tied with the Tulsa region at 5.6 percent for the second lowest unemployment rate in 2012.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the real gross domestic product in the northwest Arkansas region grew by 7.0 percent.
  • Research expenditures at the University of Arkansas increased 12.7 percent from 2007 to 2010, giving the state’s flagship institution a rank of 135 among all universities.
  • Nearly 28 percent of adults in northwest Arkansas had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2011, while just over 20 percent of the state’s adult population had advanced degrees.

"The report demonstrates that employment growth in Northwest Arkansas continues to be the region's most outstanding feature," said UA economist Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

Deck thinks the region's economic development focus should be on "improving establishment growth, adult educational attainment and the acquisition of federal research dollars." 

Mike Malone, CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said the report may not always show dramatic changes from year to year, but "as long as the overall, long-term trend is one of improvement in key categories, we can feel good about how our region is advancing."



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