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Arkansas Ranks 16th in the Nation for Personal Income Growth Gains

 April 03, 2018

Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston's article published on Linked In on March 30, 2018. Find Mike Preston on LinkedIn here.

It was announced last month that the growth of personal income in Arkansas increased 3.2 percent in 2017, which ranked the state 16th in the nation for the largest increase. We also tied Tennessee for the largest increase among neighboring states. This is great news for the State of Arkansas and its citizens who are inching closer to the national average in per capita income while enjoying the perks of living in a state with low costs of living. Many U.S. economists believe that personal income growth is a key indicator of economic health.

The growth in personal income also occurs at a time when we are enjoying historically low unemployment rates. More Arkansans have jobs today than ever before. In addition, Arkansas has been able to implement a record $150 million in tax cuts over the past three years.

Personal income growth for Arkansans increased 3 percent in the past year, from $118.9 billion to $122.5 billion. Today, average earnings are about $41,000 for each Arkansan. Arkansas is one of 11 states in the Southeast region, which led U.S. regional personal income growth.

Arkansas’ status is due in large part to our farming and healthcare/social assistance industries, which saw the largest earnings gains. By dollars, total farming earnings in Arkansas grew by just over half a billion dollars, with healthcare income rising by $444 million. Other industries seeing gains include construction, state and local government and durable goods manufacturing (0.16 percent), construction and nondurable manufacturing (0.14 percent), small business management (0.13 percent), and professional and business services (0.12 percent).

All of this combines to create an atmosphere favorable to businesses. Thanks to a governor who has remained dedicated to economic development from the moment he took office, Arkansas has been in a prime position to attract new industry, help existing businesses expand, foster entrepreneurism, and create more new jobs than ever before.

While we have made gains, there is still much to do. But, I do believe we have the momentum to keep us moving forward. Arkansas still remains one of the best-kept business secrets, but our pro-business climate and skilled workforce are gaining national attention.