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


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

First quarter 2013 economic conditions in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (central Arkansas) metro area were down slightly compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 10:18am

Economic conditions in Northwest Arkansas have been strong for several quarters, and the first quarter 2013 economy improved compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 10:12am

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

Fourth quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (central Arkansas) metro area were down slightly compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. The quarter saw gains in building permit numbers and stability with sales tax collections.

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 11:30am

Economic conditions in Northwest Arkansas remain robust, with regional growth similar to that of the fourth quarter of 2011, but slightly less than in the third quarter of 2012, according to The Compass Report.

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 11:23am

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

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

A review of economic conditions and the potential to move closer to U.S. energy independence with more use of natural gas are the planned highlights of the 2013 The Compass Conference.

Mon, 04/01/2013 - 9:00pm

Third quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (central Arkansas) metro area saw limited gains in economic conditions compared to the third quarter of 2011.

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:13pm

Third quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Northwest Arkansas metro area were improved compared to the third quarter of 2011. Ongoing job growth and consistent gains in area sales tax collections are signs of the strong metro economy.

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:05pm

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 in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (central Arkansas) metro area saw a minor decline in economic conditions compared to the second quarter of 2011. The 2012 second quarter economy in the central Arkansas area received a grade of C-.

Tue, 09/04/2012 - 12:12pm

Second quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Northwest Arkansas metro area were slightly improved compared to the second quarter of 2011. Ongoing job growth and consistent gains in area sales tax collections are signs of the strong metro economy.

Tue, 09/04/2012 - 11:41am

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

The 2012 first quarter economy in the central Arkansas area received a grade of B-, meaning that minor improvements were seen in most current and leading economic indicators.

Tue, 06/05/2012 - 1:43pm

First quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Northwest Arkansas metro area saw improvements compared to the first quarter of 2011. The gains were primarily the result of higher employment and continued increases in area sales tax collections.

Tue, 06/05/2012 - 1:30pm

First quarter 2012 economic conditions in the Fort Smith metro area remained flat compared to the 2011 period, with an ongoing decline in overall employment and building permit values weighing negatively on continued gains in regional sales tax collections.

Tue, 06/05/2012 - 12:30pm

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