The Northwest Arkansas metropolitan statistical area ranked fourth in nonfarm job growth in the nation in 2013, according to preliminary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday. Or 11th, depending on how you look at it.
The Northwest Arkansas region averaged 9,580 more jobs in a typical month in 2013 over the same month in 2012, a “moving average” growth rate of 4.56 percent. That’s according to information aggregated by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and shared Tuesday by the Northwest Arkansas Council. The Bureau ranked 383 metropolitan areas reporting out of 428 total.
The region includes Washington, Benton, and Madison counties in Arkansas and McDonald County in Missouri.
However, Northwest Arkansas ranked 11th with its year-end ranking comparing the end of December 2013 with the end of December 2012. The region grew by 8,900 jobs over that time period.
Jonesboro’s moving average ranked 11th in the country with a 3.69 percent growth rate after adding an average of about 1,880 jobs. Jonesboro ranked 14th comparing December 2013 to December 2012.
Other Arkansas areas ranked as follows in the moving average category: Fort Smith, 110th with a 1.69 percent job growth rate; Little Rock-North Little Rock, 158th with a 1.28 percent growth rate; Hot Springs, 326th after shrinking .22 percent; Pine Bluff, 370th after shrinking 1.74 percent.
Comparing December 31sts, Fort Smith ranked much better at 34th, while Little Rock ranked 191st, Hot Springs ranked 342nd, and Pine Bluff ranked 343rd.
Nationally, Midland, Tex., ranked first in moving averages thanks to a 6.15 percent job growth rate, followed by Odessa, Tex., which grew 5.71 percent. Winchester, Va., was third with a 4.62 percent increase.
Over the first 11 months of 2013, the Northwest Arkansas area added 1,299 jobs in health care and social assistance with an average salary of $48,430; 1,181 jobs in management of companies and enterprises with an average salary of $125,393; and 681 jobs in retail trade with an average salary of $27,763.
Mike Harvey, Northwest Arkansas Council chief operating officer, said the job growth has been “broad-based.” The Northwest Arkansas Council is a coordinating economic and community development nonprofit agency.
Harvey said the one area that could be improved is manufacturing, where the area gained 86 jobs after losing 8,570 manufacturing jobs over approximately the last 12 years. “To say we pulled off a year where we held our own is pretty exciting to me at this point,” he said.
Looking back over those 12 years, the area gained 58,938 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those include 10,093 jobs in health care and social assistance, and 9,252 business management jobs.
According to the Council, the region has ranked in the top 20 in percentage growth rate seven times since 1991.