National, Regional Rankings Note Economic Strength of Jonesboro

National, Regional Rankings Note Economic Strength of Jonesboro

Jonesboro residents only need to look around to know that the city and surrounding area are enjoying economic success.

But it's nice when other people notice too.

Local industry and low unemployment, among other factors, combined to get Jonesboro onto Area Development magazine's eighth annual list of "Leading Metro Locations." Ranked 119 overall, the city leads the South region's small metropolitan statistical areas in the "Economic Strength" category.

"These are amazing numbers, and they are the result of the type of people we have in Jonesboro," Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said in a statement. "We have great companies with great employees doing great work."

Founded in 1965 and published quarterly, Area Development covers corporate site selection and relocation, reporting on pertinent factors that are key to such decisions.

"Leading Metro Locations" evaluates 394 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and ranks them based on "Prime Workforce," "Economic Strength," "Year-Over-Year Growth" and "Five-Year Economic Growth." Data analysis also determines the top large, medium-size and small metros.

Among the small metros in the south, Jonesboro was ranked no lower than No. 6 in any of the four categories. Jonesboro jockeys for position on the lists with other small, southern MSAs like Auburn-Opelika, Alabama; Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Kentucky; Cleveland and Jackson, Tennessee; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and fellow Arkansas city Pine Bluff, which led the small, southern MSAs in year-over-year growth.

Overall, Jonesboro was No. 63 in economic strength among the Leading Metro Locations.

A city's size was not necessarily a factor in its economic strength as small metros Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, and Napa, California, took the first two spots overall in the Area Development rankings while small and mid-sized metros made up more than half the overall top 20.

The fifth-largest city in Arkansas with a population of more than 71,000 and an MSA of more than 125,000, Jonesboro enjoys access to other major markets, like Memphis, which is a factor that pops up in Area Development rankings to explain the surge in small MSA representation.

The magazine's methodology for measuring the economic strength of an MSA takes in a number of factors, including the unemployment rate and changes in the rate, per capita gross metropolitan product (GMP) and changes in the GMP and manufacturing- and goods-producing employment and changes in that employment rate.

Jonesboro's May unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, below the state and national rate of 3.8 percent. Its largest industries are health care and social assistance, retail trade and manufacturing.