LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On balance, economic activity strengthened in the Little Rock zone in the second quarter, according to the most recent edition of the Little Rock Burgundy Book released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Importantly, labor market conditions are improving, particularly in Little Rock and northwest Arkansas.
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).
Strong gains in service-producing employment—especially in Fayetteville and Ft. Smith—accounted for much of the strength in employment growth in the second quarter. In the Little Rock MSA, employment gains were especially brisk in the trade, transportation and utilities industry. By contrast, manufacturing employment declined modestly in the second quarter from a year earlier.
The Little Rock zone’s unemployment rate averaged 7.1 percent in the second quarter, which was little changed from the first quarter (7 percent) but still modestly less than the U.S. rate (7.6 percent).
Real estate activity continued to strengthen across most areas of the zone, with residential activity generally outpacing commercial activity. On average, house prices and building permits continued to increase in the second quarter, but the gains were more modest than those seen nationally.
Financial conditions improved in the second quarter, as households continued to reduce non-automotive debt and loan delinquencies fell further. Commercial bank profits at Arkansas banks in the second quarter were well above their Eighth District and U.S. peer banks.
Arkansas farmers expect to reap larger corn, sorghum and soybean crops in 2013, but production of cotton and rice is expected to fall short of last year’s crops.
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/20130912-burgundybooks.cfm. They are available in both English and Spanish.
The remaining Burgundy Books for 2013 will be released on December 12.