The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released a new set of estimates for Local Area Personal Income for 2018, covering metropolitan areas and counties.
For Arkansas’ metro areas, the data for 2018 largely reflect a continuation of trend rates of growth. At 6.4%, Northwest Arkansas was the only metro area to exceed the national average growth rate of 5.6%. Four metro areas (Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Memphis) all had growth rates close to the Arkansas statewide average, while Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Texarkana grew more slowly.
The new data included revisions to annual figures dating as far back as 1998, but most of the revisions were to more recent data. As shown in the figure below, the revisions had the effect of lowering recent growth estimates for the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area, as well as for Jonesboro and Pine Bluff. Growth estimates for Arkansas’ other metro areas were revised upward slightly.
In terms of per capita personal income, the 2018 data for Arkansas metro areas show estimates ranging from $34,554 in Pine Bluff to $65,306 in Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers. The Northwest Arkansas metro was the only area of the state with per capita income exceeding the national average.
Growth rates of per capita income in 2018 tended to be less dispersed than total personal income growth. Rapid population growth in the fastest-growing areas and slow population growth in the slower-growing areas tended to dampen the variability of growth rates compared to total personal income. For example, after accounting for a 1.5% population decline in Pine Bluff, per capita income there expanded by 4.0%. Rapid population growth in Northwest Arkansas meant that a 6.4% growth rate in total personal income translated to per capita income growth of only 4.3%.
Data for Arkansas counties are summarized and illustrated in the table and map below.
Total personal income growth was positive in all counties except three (Madison, Monroe and St. Francis). Benton County had the fastest growth, at 7.4%. Population growth, on the other hand, was positive in only 28 of Arkansas 75 counties. As a result, modest income gains (or even losses) in some areas translated to positive growth in per capita income. In terms of levels of per capita income, county averages ranged from a low of $27,002 in Lincoln County to $88,890 in Benton County.