What will the Arkansas economic status be in 2016?

 48% in the business community look for improvements in in the new year

Almost half of Arkansas “business contacts,” according to the Federal Reserve’s “Burgundy Book,” expect the Arkansas economic status to be better in 2016 than it was in 2015.  An economic survey covered 62 out of 75 counties in the state, broken into zones.  The largest zone covers from Little Rock up through Fayetteville and includes North Little Rock/Conway, Texarkana, Hot Springs and other cities and towns.

While 48 percent of survey respondents were looking for a better year next year, only 14 percent didn’t have high hopes for 2016.

One reason for the optimism probably stems from employment growth.  Within the Little Rock zone, the Little Rock MSA saw a 2.3-percent increase in employment in the third quarter of 2015.  You have to go back to third quarter 2006 to find a larger increase.

Unemployment in the Little Rock zone registered an average of 5.1 percent in the third quarter, the lowest number since 2008.

Four of the state’ six zones experienced an increase in building permits for single-family homes.  Home prices in 2015 have risen in all zones, with notable increases in the Texarkana and Hot Springs MSAs.  In those two communities, the increase in home prices beat out the national average.

Arkansas is stabilizing on many fronts after the economic downturn of 2008.  In Fort Smith, we’ve been more stable during the recovery than many other similar-sized cities in the South and throughout the U.S.  One reason for this is we’ve never had a new-construction industry that builds wildly and with no thought to the future.  We didn’t go crazy with building before, during or after the recession, and with our forward-thinking attitude, it’s unlikely we’ll start building indiscriminately anytime in the near future.

You can understand more about the projected 2016 Arkansas economic status here.

Nick Glidewell