LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas economy performed about as well as the U.S. economy in the first quarter, according to the most recent edition of the Little Rock Burgundy Book released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Although Arkansas’s employment growth in the first quarter of 2013 trailed the nation’s growth, unemployment rates in the largest cities were generally well below the nation’s rate.
The Burgundy Books offer comprehensive data and information on the economic conditions of each of the St. Louis Fed’s four zones: St. Louis, Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis. The publication, which is released quarterly, includes the following sections: labor markets, manufacturing, real estate and construction, the household sector, banking and finance, and agriculture and natural resources. Audio summaries of economic conditions in the zones are also available.
View the entire Little Rock report at:
The Little Rock zone of the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District covers the majority of the state of Arkansas, excluding northeast Arkansas. It represents a total population of close to 2.5 million people, including the 710,000 people who live in the Little Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
According to the Little Rock report, in the Little Rock MSA, employment growth in the first quarter (relative to a year earlier) was exceptionally brisk in the trade, transportation and utilities industry. By contrast, employment in the professional and business services fell markedly in the first quarter.
Manufacturing employment declined in the first quarter of 2013, relative to the first quarter in 2012, because of a sizable drop in employment among nondurable goods manufacturers. Some manufacturers have reported a shortage of qualified workers.
The residential real estate market continued to improve in the first quarter, as home prices and building permits were up noticeably from a year earlier. In the Little Rock MSA, though, the pace of home sales and house price increases modestly lagged the nation.
Households continued to reduce credit card debt in the first quarter; however, automotive debt continued to increase at a faster rate than the nation. Mortgage, credit card, and auto loan delinquency rates of Arkansas borrowers were below those seen nationally.
In part because of lower loan loss provisions, Arkansas banks were appreciably more profitable than their District and U.S. peer banks in the first quarter.
Arkansas farmers intend to reduce their cotton acreage in 2013, while increasing the acreage devoted to corn and sorghum.
To view all of the Burgundy Books, see research.stlouisfed.org/regecon/district.html.
In addition, MP3 audio clips of highlights from the Burgundy Books can be heard at stlouisfed.org/newsroom/multimedia/audio/20130613-burgundybooks.cfm. They are available in both English and Spanish.
The remaining Burgundy Books for 2013 will be released on September 12 and December 12.