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Metro Area GDP for 2011

After a 5-month administrative delay, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released new 2011 GDP data for the nation’s metropolitan areas.  The statistics are considered “advance statistics,” subject to considerable future revision.

Nationwide, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP increased in 242 of the nation’s 366 metro areas in 2011, with an overall metro-area growth rate of 1.6%.   Here in Arkansas, growth rates were positive for Hot Springs, Little Rock, Memphis and Texarkana.  The economies of Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Pine Bluff contracted from the previous year, while Northwest Arkansas saw real GDP unchanged from the previous year.  Even among the Arkansas metro areas that expanded, growth rates were generally below the national average (with only Little Rock matching the U.S. average).

The preliminary nature of the “advance” estimates leaves a great deal of uncertainty about the magnitude of the reported growth rates.  Along with current growth rates, the table below also shows revisions to the data from previous years.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

In general, negative growth rates in 2009 were revised downward — indicating that the effects of the recession were more severe than previously reported.  The only Arkansas metro area with a positive growth rate in 2009 was Little Rock; but even this estimate was subject to a substantial downward revision.

In 2010, the newly-revised data generally show higher growth rates than the advance estimates published in September 2011.  Growth in the Fayetteville metro area, in particular, was marked up substantially.  At the other extreme, the new estimates show negative growth for Little Rock in 2010, compared to the small increase that was originally reported.

As demonstrated by the magnitude of the revisions for 2009 and 2010, it is quite likely that the 2011 growth rates will be revised considerably by the time the next metro area GDP report comes out this September.