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


Sales tax collections — to include hospitality taxes —home sales activity and enplanement figures in the area are positive, but high jobless numbers continue to place downward pressure on the regional economy, according to data compiled for the February-March 2012 Numbers by the Wire report.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:00am

The economic story for the region during 2011 was that sales tax collections — to include tourism taxes — in the counties and cities showed consistent gains. The tax collections are a good sign of consumer sentiment.

Mon, 03/05/2012 - 11:05am

Lake Fort Smith State Park will welcome 10 new cabins by the end of 2012, Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, said Friday (Feb. 24).

Fri, 02/24/2012 - 4:17pm

Fourth quarter 2011 economic conditions declined slightly compared to the 2010 period, with a decline in overall employment and building permit values weighing negatively on continued gains in regional sales tax collections.

Fri, 02/24/2012 - 10:27am

The ongoing economic story for the region is that sales tax collections in the counties and cities continue to show gains. The tax collections are a good sign of consumer sentiment. Hospitality tax collections in Fort Smith and Van Buren continue a positive trend.

Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:38am

Fort Smith regional residents are growing more pessimistic about their personal finances and the health of the overall economy — a reality possibly fueled by the news Whirlpool will close its Fort Smith manufacturing plant.

Wed, 12/14/2011 - 3:13pm

Relative gains in area sales tax collections and tourism industry employment helped third quarter 2011 economic conditions remain stable compared to the 2010 period.

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 9:01am

Sales tax collections in the counties showed impressive gains during the period — hopefully a good sign of consumer sentiment.

Mon, 11/07/2011 - 8:11am

Sales and hospitality tax collections continue to show signs of recovery, especially in the urban areas of the region, according to the August report of Numbers by the Wire.

Thu, 09/29/2011 - 8:58am

The fifth edition of The Consumer Compass Report shows a drop in confidence with respect to personal finances and the overall economy — a finding that should come as no surprise to anyone closely watching economic conditions locally and at the state and national levels.

Mon, 09/19/2011 - 2:30pm

Editor’s note: Following is the analysis from economic Jeff Collins related to the national economy. The analysis was part of The Compass Report for the second quarter of 2011.

Mon, 09/12/2011 - 2:27pm

Second quarter 2011 economic conditions were slightly improved compared to the first quarter of 2011 and unchanged compared to the second quarter of 2010 — thanks to stability in sales tax collections and gains in hospitality industry employment.

Thu, 09/08/2011 - 11:30am

Hospitality tax collections and building permit values were the only bright spots in the regional economy for the July report of Numbers by the Wire.

Wed, 08/24/2011 - 9:28am

Area sales and hospitality tax collections continue to show improvements, but economists believe higher fuel and commodity prices have depressed consumer spending.

Wed, 07/20/2011 - 12:22pm

The May 2011 Numbers by the Wire report show improvements in area sales and hospitality tax collections, albeit at a slow pace thanks to the negative effect of higher fuel prices on consumer spending. The unemployment rate fell, but area home sales continue to show weakness compared to 2010.

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 9:04am

People in the Fort Smith region appear to be uncertain about personal finances and the overall economy, according to the most recent The Consumer Compass Report.

Wed, 06/01/2011 - 6:50am

First quarter 2011 economic conditions were mostly unchanged compared to the 2010 period, but sales tax gains and improving employment figures indicate improving momentum.

Wed, 05/25/2011 - 9:45am

The April 2011 Numbers by the Wire report finds that improvements were evident in area sales and hospitality tax collections, suggesting gains in consumer confidence.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 9:55am

The March 2011 Numbers by the Wire report finds that persistent regional high employment rates and lackluster home sales continue to indicate a weak economy.

Mon, 04/11/2011 - 3:33pm

The Compass Report is being expanded with the addition of a monthly report — presented electronically as a two-page PDF — on nine key sets of local, state and federal economic data.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 3:38pm

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