Analysis: Northwest Arkansas Economy Ranks No. 5 Through 2021

The Northwest Arkansas economy’s growth rate will rank No. 5 nationally through 2021, researchers with IHS Global Insight predict.

The same economic analysis, which was prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, predicts Northwest Arkansas will rank No. 8 in the U.S. in its job growth rate in 2017.

The IHS report continues a series of positive economic and quality of life reports about Northwest Arkansas and how it stacks up against the nation’s other metropolitan areas. In recent months, Forbes put the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area (Northwest Arkansas) at No. 2 on its list of Best Midsize Cities for Jobs and the region was No. 3 on a U.S. News and World Report ranking of Best Places to Live.

Only four U.S. regions — two in Utah and two in Florida — are expected to see their economies grow at a faster rate than Northwest Arkansas through 2021. The 3.9 percent annual growth rate predicted for Northwest Arkansas will push the region’s economy past $30 billion.

Impressive job growth will be part of the strong economic performance. The report shows jobs increased in Northwest Arkansas by 5 percent in 2015. The region’s job growth wasn’t expected to rank in the nation’s Top 10 this year, but it will be ranked again in 2017, coming in at No. 8, the analysis shows.

Northwest Arkansas has long had an economy that ranks higher nationally than its overall population.

While the Northwest Arkansas MSA is the nation’s 105th largest in population, the presence of Walmart, Sam’s Club, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Services and more than 1,450 Walmart suppliers puff up the economy’s size.

With a gross metropolitan product of $26.1 billion in 2015, Northwest Arkansas ranked No. 94 in the U.S. It ranks No. 198 in the world, putting it right behind El Salvador ($26.3 billion).

The report by IHS was made public on June 24.