Regional sales tax collections, hospitality tax collections and enplanements continue to be positive, but a slight decline in home sales activity and the persistent high jobless numbers are troubling indicators of relative economic health.
With announced plant closures set to begin in June, area jobless numbers may not improve in the near term.
The housing market clearly presents a mixed bag. The number of homes sold in Crawford County during the first five months of 2012 are up almost 14%, but sales in Sebastian County for the same period are down almost 11%.
And despite a 4.23% decrease in the overall value of homes sold in Sebastian County during the first five months of 2012, the average home sale price in the January-May period is $133,198, up 7.56% compared to the 2011 period.
Unemployment the metro area began to increase in early 2012 and reached 7.7% in May. However, the May rate was below the 8.3% in May 2011.
The number of unemployed in the Fort Smith metro during May was 9,890, down from the 11,180 during May 2011. Unfortunately, the decrease in jobless did not result in an increase in the number of employed. During May 2012, there were an estimated 110,600 non-farm jobs in the Fort Smith metro area, well below the 115,600 during May 2011.
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 May-June 2012 edition (PDF) of Numbers by the Wire.