The Bureau of Economic Analysis released new statistics on local area personal income this morning. The new data for metro areas and counties show a pronounced slowdown in economic growth in 2013 compared to 2012, but the slowdown was not unique to Arkansas. Nationwide, per capita personal income growth slowed from 4.4% in 2012 to 1.3% in 2013. As shown in the table below, Fayetteville was the only metro area in Arkansas that grew faster than the national average in 2013. Growth in three of Arkansas metro areas was negative in 2013, and with the exception of Northwest Arkansas none of the state’s metro areas experienced growth above 1%. Revised figures for 2012 show that the slowdown in 2013 was particularly sharp in Arkansas, with all metro areas falling from above average growth in 2012. Taking a somewhat longer view, two-year average growth rates for all of Arkansas’ metro areas except Texarkana exceeded the nationwide average.
The same pattern of sharp deceleration was evident in the county-level data as well. Each of Arkansas’ 75 counties experienced a slowdown in growth between 2012 and 2013. Individual county growth rates ranged from a high of 6.9% in Scott County to a low of -4.6% in Hempstead County. Above-average growth was more common among individual counties than among metro areas: 34 of the state’s counties had growth rates that exceeded the national average.
Levels of per capita income continue to vary widely across the state. In 2013, three of Arkansas’ counties had per capita personal income above the national average: Pulaski, Union, and Arkansas counties. At the other extreme, Sevier county had per capita income that was only 55.7% of the U.S. average.