Northwest Arkansas County leads Nation in Wage Growth

Benton County wages increased at a faster rate than any place in the nation, according to new data released today by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers in the county saw a 9.9 percent increase in pay between December 2013 and December 2014. Workers saw an average weekly wage increase of $209, or $10,868 annually.

The Wall Street Journal earlier today posted a story about the bureau’s report and about Benton County holding the nation’s No. 1 position. Today’s press release from the bureau is available at this link.

“The most important thing that these data tell us is that Northwest Arkansas is growing in a way that most benefits its people,” said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. “Rather than employment growth occurring in only below average pay jobs, new opportunities are accompanied by some of the most rapidly rising wages in the country.”

Benton County was at the top of the nation’s 339 largest U.S. counties, which was defined as counties providing at least 75,000 jobs in 2013.

Northwest Arkansas’ two largest counties — Benton and Washington — were both solid performers in the most recent year, information kept by the bureau shows.

Benton County, the headquarters of Walmart, Sam’s Club and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, increased its number of jobs by 5.5 percent, and only eight counties in the U.S. added jobs at a faster rate. County employment at year's end stood at about 108,300 people.

Washington County wages increased by 4.3 percent last year, adding $87 to the average worker’s weekly paycheck.  That pay increase is $4,524 annually.

Washington County, which is home to Tyson Foods and the University of Arkansas, has about 98,100 jobs, the bureau said. The number of jobs increased 3.5 percent last year.