The Compass Report: Fort Smith Region

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.

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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

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 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

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

Improvements in the number of employed and gains in building permit values in the Fort Smith region helped boost the economy in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of the year and the second quarter of 2012.

Wed, 09/18/2013 - 1:29pm

The combination of a 0.23% gain in the Fort Smith regional workforce number and a 5.3% increase in the number of area unemployed pushed the regional jobless rate higher in May.

Wed, 07/03/2013 - 1:36pm

The Fort Smith regional economy ended 2012 on a positive note, but first quarter 2013 conditions did not continue the trend, according to data collected for The Compass Report.

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 10:05am

The value of building permits in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren were a combined $34.602 million in May. The figure is up significantly from last month, with $18.35 million in permits issued, and May 2012, with $13.577 million. The total value is up 154.86% over last year.

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 4:36pm

With not as many service points as other regional airports, the severe weather during May was a cause in Fort Smith Regional Airport traffic declining almost 3% in May. Traffic in to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) was up over 4% in May.

Thu, 06/13/2013 - 2:26pm

From a purely analytical standpoint, the Fort Smith region ended 2012 on a positive note.

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 11:16am

Third quarter 2012 economic conditions were not improved compared to the 2011 period, with the number of unemployed in the region weighing negatively on the regional economy. The third quarter marks the fourth consecutive quarter of relative economic decline in the Fort Smith region.

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:52pm

Second quarter 2012 economic conditions dipped slightly compared to the 2011 period, with continued declines in overall employment weighing negatively on the regional economy. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern similar to the previous three fiscal quarters.

Tue, 09/04/2012 - 11:26am

Regional sales tax collections, hospitality tax collections and enplanements continue to be positive, but a slight decline in home sales activity and the persistent high jobless numbers are troubling indicators of relative economic health.

Fri, 07/06/2012 - 1:05pm


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