Metroplan announced last week the release of the 2013 Economic Review and Outlook, chronicling economic and development trends for the Little Rock-North Little Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Below are highlights from the journal:
1. Central Arkansas continues climbing out of the recession. Employment is still growing a bit more slowly
than the U.S. average, but is growing faster than the state average, and has accelerated somewhat
over the past year.
2. A comparison of census data of 1990 and 2010 reveals that young adults age 25 to 34 in Central Arkansas demonstrate a greater preference for living in the urban core rather than outlying areas.
3. Regional housing construction was up marginally during the first half of 2013. Cabot saw the fastest
growth in single-family housing construction with 35 percent growth and Benton had the second fastest growth in single-family housing construction with 16 percent.
Metroplan publishes a report detailing various trends twice yearly. The spring edition is the Demographic Review and Outlook; the fall edition is the Economic Review and Outlook.
The Metroplan report, called "Metro Trends," conveys there is both good and bad news for the local economy.
"The basic metrics—employment growth and rate of unemployment—have improved over the
past year," according to the report. "Employment is still growing a bit more slowly than the U.S. average, but is running faster than the state average, which has accelerated somewhat over the past year."
Unemployment was down to 6.5 percent by August 2013, still eight-tenths of a point below the U.S. rate of 7.3 percent.
"Seeing 6.5 percent local unemployment is a big improvement over a peak of 7.9 percent in early 2010 and summer 2011," states the report. "However, much of the local drop in unemployment owes to declining labor force participation, a sign that some individuals have opted out of the job market."
Based on Metroplan population estimates and Arkansas Department of Workforce Services employment data, local job growth is running slower than local population growth. While U.S. job growth has a long way to go to make up Great Recession losses, it ran faster than population growth in the 2012–2013 interval.