1st Quarter Insights
March was a challenging month for the Arkansas economy. While there were some bright spots, such as housing (2734 units sold statewide with an average sale price of $163,285), residential construction permits ($71 million), and an unemployment rate of 4%, the overall index values were down for the quarter. Every city had a lower index in March compared to December and 12 of the 19 cities had index values below 100 for the first quarter.
On top of the index for the quarter is Rogers being helped by a strong March. Rogers had a 106.85 for the quarter and a 109.06 for March. Rogers was one of only two cities that increased from February to March with a rise of 3.63 points. Rogers was above par in all four sectors and above 110 in three of the four. Their weakest sector was labor, at 102.39 because their labor force grew by only about 100 workers. Their strongest component was eight commercial construction permits totaling $22.6 million over half of which is the Primrose Retirement Community totaling $12.9 million. All of this adds up to a commercial construction component index of 119.5.
Hardest hit for the quarter was Fort Smith with a decline of 3.97 points falling from 105.05 in December to 101.08 in March. Fort Smith’s best sector was most responsible for its decline. Retail was a huge 131 in the strength fo the holiday shopping in December but fell to a still large 119 in March. Construction and Labor also contributed to the decline as commercial construction permits fell from $53.6 million in the fourth quarter to$1.9 million in the first quarter.