Of the eight metro areas within or connected to Arkansas, only the Fort Smith area saw a GDP decrease in 2011 compared to the beginning of the recession in 2008.

The Texarkana, Ark.-Texas, metro area posted the largest percentage gain at 10.4%, with Northwest Arkansas second at at 9.9% GDP gain between 2008 and 2011.

The 2011 advance GDP figures were released Friday (Feb. 22) by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The report shows that real GDP increased in 242 of the nation’s 366 metropolitan areas in 2011 led by growth in professional and business services, durable-goods manufacturing, and trade. Real GDP in metro areas increased 1.6% in 2011 after increasing 3.1% in 2010.

All metro areas within or connected to Arkansas had a GDP gain in 2011 compared to 2010. The Texarkana metro area topped the annual gain in 2011 with a 4% increase. The Little Rock-North Little Rock area had a 3.9% gain; the Jonesboro area posted a 3.47% rise; Northwest Arkansas was up 2.8%; Hot Springs was up 2.67%; Memphis-West Memphis was up 2.25%; the Fort Smith metro area was up 2%; and the Pine Bluff area was up 1.3%.

According to the BEA, real GDP by metropolitan area is an inflation-adjusted measure of each area’s gross product that is based on national prices for the goods and services produced within the metropolitan area.

“Durable-goods manufacturing continued to spur growth in many of the nation’s metropolitan areas in 2011,” noted the BEA report [1]. Strong contributions from this industry fueled growth in many small metropolitan areas where production of these goods constitutes a large portion of the area’s economy.”

SEGMENT GAINERS, DECLINERS
Unfortunately, durable and nondurable manufacturing sector numbers in Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith area were not provided by the BEA to “avoid disclosure of confidential information.” The same was true of trade sector figures for Northwest Arkansas.

Based on metro numbers provided by the BEA, the big gainers in Northwest Arkansas during 2011 were education and health services (up 0.24%), leisure and hospitality (up 0.17%), and financial activities (up 0.14%).

Decliners during 2011 in the metro area were natural resources and mining (-0.41%), transportation and utilities (-0.29%), and information (-0.06%).

In the Fort Smith area, the gainers in 2011 were business and professional services (up 0.22%), trade (up 0.16%), and information (up 0.10%). Decliners in 2011 were transportation and utilities (-0.34%), and government (-0.15%).

RECESSION COMPARISON
The following table shows how the Arkansas metro areas have fared since the beginning of the recession in 2008. The parenthetical number next to the metro area denotes the 2011 rank – out of 366 metro areas – in terms of GDP amount.

Northwest Arkansas (107)
2011: $20.003 billion – up 9.9% since 2008
2010: $19.453 billion
2009: $18.014 billion
2008: $18.198 billion

Fort Smith (182)
2011: $9.844 billion – down 0.2% since 2008
2010: $9.642 billion
2009: $9.391 billion
2008: $9.864 billion

Hot Springs (362)
2011: $2.724 billion – up 4% since 2008
2010: $2.653 billion
2009: $2.600 billion
2008: $2.619 billion

Jonesboro (305)
2011: $4.346 billion – up 9.4% since 2008
2010: $4.200 billion
2009: $3.991 billion
2008: $3.972 billion

Little Rock-North Little Rock (68)
2011: $33.126 billion – up 5.9% since 2008
2010: $31.875 billion
2009: $32.055 billion
2008: $31.269 billion

Memphis-West Memphis (45)
2011: $64.323 billion – up 2.5% since 2008
2010: $62.906 billion
2009: $61.265 billion
2008: $62.752 billion

Pine Bluff (351)
2011: $3.165 billion – up 2.9% since 2008
2010: $3.124 billion
2009: $3.049 billion
2008: $3.075 billion

Texarkana (296)
2011: $4.679 billion – up 10.4% since 2008
2010: $4.499 billion
2009: $4.272 billion
2008: $4.235 billion

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Michael Tilley

Michael Tilley

Michael Tilley is the president and managing editor of The City Wire, a content partner with Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by email at MTilley@TheCityWire.com.