LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A November survey of business contacts in the Little Rock zone revealed modest optimism about the strength of the economy in 2014, according to the most recent edition of the Little Rock Burgundy Book released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Two-thirds of those surveyed expect economic conditions to be better or somewhat better next year.
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: https://research.stlouisfed.org/regecon/burgundybooks/13/12/BB1213LR.pdf
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).
Bolstered by healthy growth of private-sector employment, labor market conditions in the third quarter improved in three of the four MSAs in the Little Rock zone. The zone’s unemployment rate in the third quarter averaged 7.1 percent, relatively unchanged from the previous quarter. Arkansas’s economy has benefited from a burst of manufacturing exports that has outpaced that seen nationally.
Residential housing market conditions were mixed in the third quarter, as single-family building permits fell in most areas, but home sales rose sharply in Little Rock. House prices remain on an upward trajectory in most areas, though continuing at a slower rate than those seen nationally.
Similar to the nation, households in the Little Rock zone continued to reduce their outstanding debt—both mortgage debt and credit card balances. Delinquency rates on credit card debts are now below prerecession levels.
Boosted by rising net interest margins and improving loan quality, Arkansas banks continue to be, on average, significantly more profitable than their U.S. peers.
Arkansas’s corn and soybean production was expected to be sharply higher in 2013, while cotton and rice production was expected to decline markedly compared with 2012.
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/20131212-burgundybooks.cfm. They are available in both English and Spanish.
The next Burgundy Books will be released on March 13, 2014.