The Northwest Arkansas economy grew by nearly $4 billion over a five-year span, new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows.
The bureau’s statistics show the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area’s gross domestic product reached $23.5 billion last year, an increase of nearly 20% since 2013.
“GDP is the value of goods produced in a geographic area and an important gauge of economic performance of the nation, states and regions,” said Mervin Jebaraj, the director of the University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research.
The Northwest Arkansas Council uses the statistic in its annual State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report to compare the area to peer regions such as Madison, Wisc.; Des Moines, Iowa; Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and Provo-Orem, Utah.
Driven by three Fortune 500 company headquarters, the University of Arkansas and hundreds of Walmart supplier offices, the Northwest Arkansas economy has continued to grow for decades. There were 150,000 jobs in the metropolitan area in 1998; today there are more than 270,000.
The federal data shows the region’s annual GDP has increased 14 times since 2001 when it sat at $13.3 billion. The only pause in this century came during a three-year period that started in 2007 when the nation suffered through an economic recession.
For the first time, the bureau shared county-level data, making it possible to see how all Arkansas counties are performing.
In 2018, Benton County accounted for 56.4% of the economic activity in the metropolitan area. The remainder of the metro GDP is created in Washington County (41.8%) and Madison County (1.7%).
The state’s economy grew by 0.7% from 2017 to 2018 and now stands at $117.3 billion. The Northwest Arkansas metro accounts for about 20% of the state’s economy and about 18% of the state’s population.