Arkansas’ GDP grew at an annualized rate of 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, down somewhat from the 4.8% and 4.1% growth rates (revised) registered in the second and third quarters of the year. The four quarter growth rate was 1.4% and the annual rate of change (2015 vs. 2014) was 1.5%. The GDP data support a general assessment of Arkansas’ economy as having grown at a healthy (albeit not exceptional) pace over the past three years.
The table below shows growth rates by sector for 2015:Q4, along with annual growth rates for 2015. Several sectors expanded sharply at the end of 2015, including Construction, Nondurable goods manufacturing, Wholesale trade, and some service-providing sectors. The expansion of nondurable goods manufacturing was a welcome improvement, as were surges in the growth rates of Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Other Services. For the year as a whole, growth was strongest in Agriculture, Construction, Wholesale & Retail Trade, some sub-categories of Professional & Business Services, and Health Services.
The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis also included revisions to state GDP data for 2008-2014. As shown in the figure below, growth rates for Arkansas GDP were revised sharply higher for 2013 and 2014. The originally-reported growth rate for 2014 (0.8%) seemed particularly inconsistent with the strong employment growth recorded for that year. The revised figure (2.1%) is more consistent with other contemporaneous measures of state economic activity. Viewed from a longer-term trend perspective, the latest GDP data suggest that Arkansas has been on a steady growth path since the end of 2012.