Benton County in Northwest Arkansas saw the highest wage growth of any county in the nation, according to new data released this week.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average worker in Benton County earned 16.3% more in June 2019 than the same month in 2018. The average weekly wage of the 122,000 workers in the county was $1,197.
The Bureau collects wage information in the nation’s 355 largest counties, and three of those are in Arkansas: Benton, Pulaski and Washington. Talk Business & Politics shared information about all three counties.
Wages in Washington County grew 4% over the year, ranking No. 110. Its 110,000 workers averaged $904 a week.
Pulaski County’s 3.2% growth ranked No. 200 among the nation’s large counties. Workers averaged $949 a week.
University of Arkansas economist Mervin Jebaraj, the director of the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said the Benton County wage increase can be tied to a surge in professional services jobs that include engineers, lawyers and some technology-related occupations. Those jobs tend to be high-paying positions.
The region’s largest companies, including Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, are working to recruit talent to the region from some of the nation’s largest metropolitan area, and they’re offering good wages to bring those workers to Northwest Arkansas.
What many of those workers discover when they relocate to the region are far better quality of life amenities than than they’d anticipated and a cost of living that’s far below most U.S. regions.
The labor statistics bureau’s new weekly wage information is more good news for the region and complements the information released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Nov. 14. That per capita income data showed the average person in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area makes $65,306 — ranking the region No. 18 nationally.
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.