Northwest Arkansas statistics

The statistics about Northwest Arkansas tell the story of the region’s amazing high quality of life, its impressive business community and its remarkable schools. Low unemployment rates, impressive job growth, rapid population growth and increasing diversity are hallmarks of Northwest Arkansas.

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We wanted to use this space to create a unique profile of Northwest Arkansas, combining statistics you’d expect to learn about a region as well as a few others that we dug deep to figure out. We update this information regularly, and we think you’ll like what you see.

The statistics about Northwest Arkansas often draw the attention of national media publications when they go about determining which region’s are the best places to live, best for schools and so on. A list of recent rankings by a variety of publications can be found elsewhere on this website. 

Northwest Arkansas MSA

This section highlights numbers about the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region more commonly referred to as Northwest Arkansas. The area includes Benton, Madison and Washington counties in Arkansas as well as McDonald County in Missouri. The area is shown in the map on this page. There are hundreds of statistics out there about metropolitan statistical areas, but we'll focus on just a few.

Population: 539,000 residents as of February 2018. That's a Northwest Arkansas Council estimated and it was created by assuming that the population growth since the U.S. Census in 2010 continues adding the same number of people each day.

People Added Per Day: 27 daily since 2010; 31.7 in the most recent year.

MSA Size: The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA is officially recognized as the nation's 105th largest by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, Northwest Arkansas Council estimates based on U.S. Census Bureau data shows the region by February 2018 was probably bigger than the Portland, Maine and Youngstown, Ohio MSAs. That would mean Northwest Arkansas sits at No. 103.

Growth Rate: While Northwest Arkansas is not yet a Top 100 MSA, it's 13.3 percent growth rate between 2010-2016 was higher than 91 of the Top 100.

Top 100 MSA: Northwest Arkansas is on pace to be one of the nation's 100 largest MSAs by late 2019, a Northwest Arkansas Council analysis of U.S. Census Bureau population estimates shows. Reaching Top 100 status matters because many national publications and researchers focus on the Top 100 when they go about ranking regions.

Gross Metropolitan Product: $26.76 billion. That's the 2016 number from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It means the MSA is the nation's 97th largest economy.

The Economy

Total Nonfarm Employment: There were 254,100 workers in the region in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were about 150,000 jobs in the region as of mid-1998 so things have really ramped up in Northwest Arkansas.

Unemployment Rate: 2.8 percent in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Few regions in the U.S. can match the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA when it comes to unemployment rate.

Money

Per Capita Personal Income: $55,729 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The amount climbed beyond $50,000 for the first time in 2014.

Cost of Living: Here's where being in Northwest Arkansas really pays off. While it's people may be able to earn more elsewhere, a person's purchasing power is amazing in Northwest Arkansas. A person making $60,000 in Northwest Arkansas would need to make $75,977 in Denver to have equal purchasing power.  They’d need to make $82,011 in Chicago and $123,634 in San Francisco. The CNN Money cost of living calculator used to make those comparisons can be used to compare Northwest Arkansas to any metropolitan area in the U.S.

Housing

People who move from elsewhere find housing prices are affordable when compared to other U.S. regions, but the Northwest Arkansas home prices are rising.

Three out of every four homes sold in the first half of 2017 were in one of five major cities in the region: Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale. In all, there were 4,385 houses sold in the first half of that year.

The average sales price was the highest in Bentonville ($281,604) followed by Rogers ($257,598). The lowest average home price was in Bella Vista ($171,542).

Largest Employers

Northwest Arkansas' Big Three Fortune 500 companies — Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt — are the region's largest employers. What's remarkable about them is how impressive the are when compared to companies elsewhere. Fortune magazine keeps a map on its website that shows just how impressive the Walmart revenue is compared to all companies across the U.S.

Consider these tidbits about Northwest Arkansas' Big Three:

  • Walmart employs 2.3 million around the world, and that's more than Kroger, Home Depot, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Target, Walgreens and Starbucks combined.
  • Tyson Foods, by revenue, would be largest company in Phoenix, Denver, Kansas City, Tampa, Miami and Orlando. Tyson Foods would rank second in the Chicago metro area.
  • JB Hunt is bigger than JetBlue, Harley-Davidson, Clorox and Mattel.
  • When it comes to the Fortune 500 ranking that's produced each year by Fortune magazine, Walmart’s 2016 revenue was $100 billion more than next five retailers combined: Costco, Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s and Best Buy.