The economic story for the region during 2011 was that sales tax collections — to include tourism taxes — in the counties and cities showed consistent gains. The tax collections are a good sign of consumer sentiment.
Tax collections in three of the four counties measured were up during 2011, with Crawford County posting a 0.16% dip in collections for the year. However, collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $3.613 million, up 1.26% compared to 2010.
Area home sales began to show recovery during 2011, but jobless numbers remain the trouble spot in the Fort Smith region.
The number of unemployed during December was 10,342, ahead of the 10,292 in November but more than 1,000 jobs below the 11,354 during December 2010. However, the number of employed during December was an estimated 119,722, almost 2% below the 122,093 during November and below the 121,979 during December 2010.
January home sales in Crawford and Sebastian counties totaled 91, down from 96 during January 2011 and down from the 98 during January 2010.
Numbers by the Wire — a component of The Compass Report — is a monthly report presented electronically as a two-page PDF on nine key sets of local, state and federal economic data.
Funded and managed by The City Wire and presented by Benefit Bank, The Compass Report is a quarterly regional economic report with data collection and analysis handled by Jeff Collins, a nationally known economist based in Springdale and co-founder of Streetsmart Data Services. Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce also help sponsor the report.
Link here for the January 2012 edition (PDF) of Numbers by the Wire.