Fort Smith Stays on Top of Arkansas Tech Business Index

Fort Smith Stays on Top of Arkansas Tech Business Index

For the second consecutive month, Fort Smith led the Arkansas Tech Business Index with the highest ATBI value in April.

Fort Smith was driven to the top spot with high marks in retail sales, 112.68, and the housing market, 106.47. It also saw ratings above 100 in the labor market, 103.86, and construction, 103.08.

Fort Smith ranked among the top five cities in three of the four categories. Its highest rating was second in retail. The only category it did not come in the top five was the labor market.

The city saw a decrease of 1.6 points between March and April, however, its 106.99 rating was good enough to best its closest competitors. Fayetteville, 104.82, Rogers, 104.53, Springdale, 104.04, and Bentonville, 102.92, rounded out the top five.

Conway, 102.02, and Jonesboro, 100.83, were the only other cities to be above 100. In all, seven cities saw a rating above 100 in April.

Russellville, 0.83 points, Little Rock, 0.76 points, and Jonesboro 0.70 points, saw the biggest increases from March to April. El Dorado, 0.11 points, and North Little Rock, 0.07 points, were the only other cities to see an increase.

The index, which provides a snapshot of the economic activity in Arkansas, is based around 100. A city above 100 is better than the state average from 2009 to present.

Little Rock came in under the state average in April at 99.24. Behind Jonesboro was Searcy, 99.94, Hot Springs, 99.41, Little Rock, Russellville, 97.38, El Dorado, 93.79, West Memphis, 92.3, and Pine Bluff, 91.67.

To see the complete index, click here.

Labor Market

As in March, Springdale remained atop the labor market index with a 107.17 rating.

The northwest Arkansas city boasted an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, according to unseasonably adjusted numbers from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Springdale had 33,304 employed workers and 1,465 unemployed in April.

Springdale was followed by Rogers, 106.53, North Little Rock, 105.26, Searcy, 105.23, and Bentonville, 104.34. Of the top five cities, Bentonville, 4.4, and Rogers, 4.5, joined Springdale with an unemployment rate below 5 percent.

Bentonville had the smallest number of unemployed workers, 859, but also had the smallest labor force, 19,362.

West Memphis repeated as the lowest-ranked city in the labor market index in April at 89.4. It was followed by Little Rock, 95.29, Pine Bluff, 95.32, Conway, 95.45, and Fayetteville, 96.96.

According to unseasonably adjusted data from the Department of Workforce Services, West Memphis posted an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent. The city had 1,089 unemployed workers in a labor force of 9,781.

Pine Bluff also had an unemployment rate above 10 percent, coming in at 10.1 percent. The city had 1,890 unemployed workers in a labor force of 18,680.

Although they were among the lowest five rated cities, Little Rock, Conway and Fayetteville posted unemployment rates lower than the state and national rates in April.

Fayetteville boasted the lowest rate at 4.6 percent, followed by Little Rock at 5.7 percent and Conway at 5.8 percent.

Little Rock had the highest number of unemployed workers at 5,253, but it also had the largest labor force, 92,657, which is more than double that of Fayetteville, 39,290, which had the second-largest labor force of the bottom five.

*Unseasonally adjusted numbers from Department of Workforce Services **Searcy numbers for White County 

Housing/Real Estate Market

Conway jumped into the top spot of the housing and real estate market with a 109.33 rating. 

The rating comes close to its 109.78 mark a year ago in April.

Faulkner County, of which Conway is the county seat of, was among the top five markets for housing sales in April, according to the Arkansas Realtors Association.

As a whole, the county had 126 homes sell in April, which was the fifth-highest total that month, for an average of $158,445. The county's valuation was $19.9 million.

Conway was followed by Jonesboro and Hot Springs at 106. 77, and Fort Smith, 106.47, and Fayetteville, 106.02.

In all, nine cities had ratings above 100. Followed by Fayetteville was Bentonville, 104.62, Springdale, 104.37, Rogers, 103.54, and Little Rock, 102.77.

Texarkana was the lowest-rated city in the housing market index with a 80.16 rating. It was followed by Pine Bluff, 83.5, West Memphis, 89.04, Searcy, 93.71, and North Little Rock, 94.04. 

Miller County, which Texarkana is the county seat of, had only 25 homes sell in April at an average price of $84,355. The county's total valuation was $2.1 million.

*Numbers for entire counties from Arkansas Realtors Association

Construction & Retail Markets

Bentonville remained on top of the construction index with a 117.49 rating. 

Its closest competitors were Jonesboro, 109.33, Little Rock, 105.14, Fayetteville, 103.42, and Fort Smith, 103.08.

Last April, Bentonville's rating was 130.95.

While its fellow Pulaski County city, Little Rock, was the third-highest city in the construction market, North Little Rock came in last with a 82.15 rating. Last April, it had another low rating at 87.12

It was followed by Searcy, 91.95, Russellville, 95.27, Hot Springs, 95.29, and El Dorado, 97.84.

In retail, Fayetteville overtook Fort Smith with a rating of 115.09. It was followed by Fort Smith, 112.68, Rogers, 106.68, Searcy, 103.45, and Little Rock, 101.98. 

Once again, North Little Rock found itself on the opposite end of the index with an 84.45 rating. It was followed by Pine Bluff, 87.84, Texarkana, 88.44, El Dorado, 89.13, and West Memphis, 89.15.

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