LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) — Metroplan announces the release of the 2018 Economic Review and Outlook, chronicling economic trends for the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). 

This edition of the Metrotrends Economic Review and Outlook takes a look at the region’s economy in the present and its prospects for growth. 

Central Arkansas’ economy has grown at a slower pace than the U.S. economy since about 2010. But in 2018 the local region made up some lost ground. Local job growth ran twice as fast (3.2 percent) from January-October of 2018 as it did (1.6 percent) over the same interval in 2017. 

  • The region is experiencing intense demand for workers, making pay raises likely and boosting local income growth. 
  • The region has undergone a shake-out in the telecom sector, which has exerted a drag on local economic growth since about 2008. The “telecom drag” effect is probably ending, which helps explain the recent acceleration in overall regional growth.
  • The region’s leading growth sectors at present are business services, education, health, and finance. 
  • Local manufacturing increased as a share of local GDP from 2010 to 2017, in contrast with a declining share in the overall U.S. Economy. This edition includes a close-up production-line look at Welspun and Prospect Steel, thriving local firms in the region’s powerhouse steel sector.

Other topics include:

  •  A Regional Economic Survey: Metroplan queried selected regional economic leaders for their observations on the state of the region’s economy. The responses were provocative and generally upbeat.
  • A look at Gas Pos, a promising new tech company from Birmingham, encouraged by Little Rock’s Venture Center, and now housed in North Little Rock’s Argenta District.

Read the full publication here.

Metroplan publishes Metrotrends twice yearly. The spring/summer edition is the Demographic Review and Outlook; the fall/winter edition is the Economic Review and Outlook. All articles, tables and figures are available for republishing with credit. This issue is available as a PDF or paper copy from Metroplan.

Metroplan is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the four-county region of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties. It is a voluntary association of local governments that has operated since 1955.