Written by Arkansas Real Estate
Kathy, a nationally recognized economist, was very gracious in sharing her insight on what we can expect to see in the coming months and years here in Northwest Arkansas.
What economic trends are you seeing here in NWA (as far as business development, job creation)?
Job creation has been the story of the economic success of Northwest Arkansas since the 1990s. However, since the onset of the most recent recession, Northwest Arkansas has struggled to regain its job creation momentum. From January 1990 to the onset of the recession in November 2007, employment growth averaged just over 500 jobs per month. Since November 2007, however, the region has lost 8,900 jobs and except for a brief period at the beginning of 2011, there have been continuing modest year-over-year employment losses.
How does Northwest Arkansas compare nationally in terms of growth?
Northwest Arkansas continues to outshine the rest of the United States in terms of unemployment rate, having a rate that has consistently been around 2 full percentage points lower than the nation. Employment losses were larger on a percentage basis for the nation, but Northwest Arkansas is being a bit slower to see employment gains on a year-over-year basis than the United States as a whole.
What is your prediction for the coming 1-2 years in terms of economic development in NWA?
Northwest Arkansas will struggle with weak national macroeconomic conditions over the next year or two, but should begin to see modest job gains on a year-over-year basis. The implementation of the Northwest Arkansas Council’s economic development strategic plan will provide some positive impetus to the economy. Also, modestly improving national conditions will help with consumer confidence, which is vital to Northwest Arkansas’ economic health.
Many thanks to Kathy for taking time to chat with us this week. We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for next week's kibitz!