Compass Reports

The Compass Report is the only independent economic analysis of Arkansas’ top three metro areas (Central Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith region). The report measures four leading and four current economic indicators to provide a grade for a regional economy.

A key factor in understanding The Compass is in understanding the “grading” approach used to measure the current and leading economic indicators. The strategy is to place the most recent data in historical context. Average values for the percent change over the referenced time period were calculated, as were standard deviations for each measure.

View the Fort Smith Region report
View the Central Arkansas report
View the Northwest Arkansas report


Gains in employment, sales tax collections and building permits resulted in the best combination of grades for Arkansas’ top three metro economies since the first quarter of 2012 when the report first analyzed all three areas.

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 2:10pm

Downtown development and raising expectations were at the core of discussions at the 2015 Compass Conference on Thursday (April 9) evening.

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:28pm

Economic conditions in Arkansas’ three largest metro areas were relatively healthy in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:36pm

“Grudgingly slow” gains in the U.S. labor market, gains in business investment and increases in consumer spending during the fourth quarter of 2014 point to modest national economic growth in 2015, according to analysis that is part of The Compass Report.

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 2:02pm

The combined value of building permits issued in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren during the first quarter of 2015 was up more than 50% thanks primarily to a $22 million permit issued in March for construction of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 12:23pm

The 2015 Compass Conference will focus on downtown Fort Smith development, with the soon-to-be-renovated Masonic Temple to provide a unique venue and format for sixth annual event.

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 8:57pm

Improved economic conditions and stable air fare rates in 2014 helped the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) set a new enplanement record, and helped the Fort Smith Regional Airport post an almost 10% enplanement gain.

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:13pm

Barring a surprise drop in November and December, travel and tourism tax collections in Fort Smith and Van Buren should end the year on a high note, and Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax should set a new collections record.

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 1:38pm

While not broad, improvements in employment, sales tax collections and tourism sector employment helped push positive economic trends during the third quarter of 2014 for Arkansas’ three largest metro areas.

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:53pm

Arkansas’ three largest metro areas showed either improvements or stability during the second quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, according to The Compass Report’s analysis of second quarter data.

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 2:22pm

Economic conditions in two of Arkansas’ three largest metro areas continue to be stable or improving, with central Arkansas – the state’s largest metro – continuing to show signs of weakness that began in the first quarter of 2013, according to The Compass Report’s analysis of first quarter 2014

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 4:52pm

The 2013 fourth quarter economy in the central Arkansas area received a grade of C- meaning that economic conditions declined slightly compared to the fourth quarter of 2012 and were unchanged from the previous three quarters of the year, according to The Compass Report.

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 4:15pm

Continued gains in employment and sales tax collections helped the Northwest Arkansas economy finish 2013 with a strong fourth quarter, according to The Compass Report.

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 4:05pm

The Compass Report for the fourth quarter of 2013 shows that small but broad based gains in key metrics has resulted in the Fort Smith regional economy finishing out 2013 with two consecutive positive quarters.

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 3:58pm

The 5th annual The Compass Conference will be held April 17 and will feature an update on economic conditions – based on data from The Compass Report – in the Fort Smith metro area during 2013 and future opportunities and challenges of the regional medical sector.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 3:28pm

The 2013 third quarter economy in the central Arkansas area received a grade of C- meaning that economic conditions declined slightly compared to the third quarter of 2012 but were unchanged the first and second quarters of 2013, according to The Compass Report.

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:35pm

Economic conditions for the Northwest Arkansas economy were stronger in the third quarter than in the previous three quarters, with employment and building permit numbers leading the way.

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:30pm

Slight but continued improvements in economic trends for the Fort Smith region during the third quarter of 2013 has resulted in the best quarterly grade for the economy since the first quarter 2009 launch of The Compass Report.

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:22pm

The 2013 second quarter economy in the central Arkansas area received a grade of C- meaning that economic conditions declined slightly compared to the second quarter of 2012 but were unchanged the first quarter of 2013, according to The Compass Report.

Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:34pm

Economic conditions remained positive in Northwest Arkansas during the second quarter of 2013, and are stronger than the second quarter of 2012 thanks to continued gains in employment and building permit values.

Wed, 09/18/2013 - 2:20pm

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