Arkansas’ seven metro areas in or substantially connected to the state saw GDP gains in 2010, with the Jonesboro metro area posting the highest percentage gain, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The 2010 report is a big shift compared to 2009 when six of the seven metro area saw gross domestic product (GDP) declines compared to 2008. Only Jonesboro reported a GDP gain 2009. Also, five of Arkansas’ metro areas saw GDP percentage gains that topped the national average of 2.5%. (See chart at end of story for GDP annual comparisons by metro area.)
The state’s three largest metro areas saw relatively healthy GDP gains in 2010. The central Arkansas GDP totaled $32.98 billion in 2010, up 1.02% compared to 2009. In Northwest Arkansas, the 2010 GDP was $18.249, up 4.84%, and the GDP in the Fort Smith metro area was $10.185 billion, up 5.79% compared to 2009.
GDP trends in Arkansas were seen nationwide. GDP by metropolitan area increased 2.5% in 2010 after declining 2.5% in 2009. The economic growth was widespread as real GDP increased in 304 of 366 (83%) metropolitan areas, led by national growth in durable-goods manufacturing, trade, and financial activities.
Unfortunately, GDP gains don’t necessarily result in employment growth. In 2010, when the Fort Smith metro area saw GDP grow 5.79% over 2009, the average metro area jobless rate in 2010 was 8.2%, up over the 7.9% of 2009. The region’s 2010 GDP was also up 6.1% compared to 2007, but the average metro area jobless rate in 2007 was 5.3%.
All of Arkansas’ metro areas have seen GDP gains between 2007 and 2010 and have seen jobless rate increases in the same period. Productivity — getting more production value per job — is often cited by economists as the cause of disparity between GDP and jobless growth.
NATIONAL METRO STATS
The BEA report included several points about metro GDP moves:
• Of the 10 largest metropolitan areas, the three with the fastest real GDP growth in 2010 were Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH (4.8%), New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA (4.7%), and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (3.6%)
• The 10 largest metropolitan areas, accounting for 38% of U.S. metropolitan area GDP, averaged 2.5% growth in 2010 after falling 2.2% in 2009.
• Durable-goods manufacturing led the resurgence in U.S. real GDP by metropolitan area in 2010. Strong contributions from durable-goods manufacturing fueled growth in many small metropolitan areas where production of these goods constitutes a large portion of the area’s economy.
• In 2010, growth in trade (wholesale and retail) positively affected many metropolitan areas.
• In contrast to most industries, construction continued to detract from growth in 2010.
Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this report. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.