Fort Smith Economy Improved In September, Study Shows

Several aspects of the greater Fort Smith area’s economy show year-over-year improvement, according to a new report from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

The monthly economic indicators report is prepared by the Center for Business Research and Economic Development, part of the UAFS College of Business.

September’s report shows home sales in the Fort Smith Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises Sebastian, Crawford and Franklin counties in Arkansas and Le Flore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma, rose 5.8 percent for the month.

The average home price rose 6.7 percent to $145,333. And the overall value of the 164 homes sold in September was up 12.9 percent from the previous September.

Residential construction permits rose 4 percent from September 2011.

The report also shows signs of the job market stabilizing.

The number of people employed in nonfarm jobs remained at 111,600, unchanged from September 2011.

Manufacturing was the strongest employment sector, growing by 700 jobs or 3.7 percent. However, year-to-date employment in that sector is down 3.8 percent.

The financial activities sector lost 300 jobs for a drop of 7.7 percent since September 2011. Year to date, the sector is down 11.3 percent.

Also included in the report are retail sales for August, which rose 3.7 percent for the month. They’re up 3.4 percent year to date.