Northwest Arkansas region by the numbers
The statistics about Northwest Arkansas tell the story of the region’s robust growth and its impressive business community. Low unemployment rates, significant job growth, rapid population growth and increasing diversity are hallmarks of Northwest Arkansas.
We use this page to create a unique, stats-filled profile of Northwest Arkansas, combining the 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 regions 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.
This page was last update in February 2018.
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 green map on this page. There are hundreds of statistics about metropolitan statistical areas, but we'll focus on just a few.
Population: 539,000 residents. That's a Northwest Arkansas Council estimate created by assuming that the daily increase in population between the 2010 Census and the U.S. Census Bureau's population estimate of July 1, 2016 remains exactly the same. The Census Bureau in March 2017 estimated the July 1 population at 525,032.
People Added Per Day: 27 daily since 2010; 31.7 in the most recent year.
MSA Size: The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA is officially the nation's 105th largest by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, Northwest Arkansas Council estimates show the region's population by February 2018 was probably more 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 faster 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 shows. Reaching Top 100 status matters because many national publications and researchers focus on the Top 100 when they compare regions.
Diversity: A Look at How Northwest Arkansas' Population is Changing was published by the Northwest Arkansas Council in December 2017, and it shows how much the region's population has transformed since 1990. By 2022, the region will be nearly 18 percent Hispanic/Latino. The Asian and Pacific Islander populations will continue to increase, too, and most of the region's minority populations are becoming larger and larger portions of the overall population. One of the world's largest populations of people from the Marshall Islands lives in Springdale, Northwest Arkansas' second largest city.
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.
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.
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 they 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.
Those companies have all made new commitments to a strong future in Northwest Arkansas. Walmart, for example, plans to build a world-class new headquarters in Bentonville, and expects that project to take several years. Tyson Foods in late 2017 opened a new technology hub in downtown Springdale, and J.B. Hunt in 2017 completed an impressive expansion that will lead to new jobs in Northwest Arkansas.
Consider these other facts 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.
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.
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.
Records kept by the Arkansas Realtors Association show 28 percent of all home sales in the state's 75 counties occurred in Benton and Washington counties.
The association reported that the average price in Benton County was $221,268. In Washington County, sales averaged $216,635. Nearly 800 houses were sold in December 2017 in the two counties, and two-thirds of those sales were in Benton County.
Arts and Cultural
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art attracted 633,000 visitors in 2017, and it's recognized across the U.S. for its excellence. Asher B. Durand's Kindred Spirits Charles Willson Peale's George Washington and Norman Rockwell's iconic Rosie the Riveter are among the most recognized paintings in the museum's amazing collection.
The museum in Bentonville is the centerpiece of Northwest Arkansas' thriving, growing arts scene. A study completed in 2017 by Americans for the Arts showed the arts and culture industry in the region generated $131.2 million in economic activity in 2015. That was way beyond the $45 million in activity noted five years earlier.
The opening of Crystal Bridges in 2011, the Walmart AMP outdoor music venue in 2014, Scott Family Amazeum children's museum in 2015 and the expansion of the Walton Arts Center in 2016 are widely recognized as major factors in the dramatic increase in economic impact created by arts and culture amenities.