Report: Northwest Arkansas Unemployment Rate Drops, Wages Rise

LOWELL (KFSM) -- Northwest Arkansas continues to see growth year over year, according to the 2016 State of Northwest Arkansas Region Report.

The report, released on Friday (Sept. 30), highlights the growth, education, healthcare and business in NWA in 2015.

The Northwest Arkansas council started commissioning the data in 2011, to get a better understanding of the economic growth in the area and how improvements can be made.

Kathy Deck, Center for Business and Economic Research director at the University of Arkansas, said the meeting gives businesses and community leaders a shared factual basis of knowledge.

That knowledge base includes how the area has grown, the unemployment rate and the education level of the workforce.

"[Business and community leaders] get the best, the latest, the greatest numbers," Deck said. "They're able to start the discussions from a place where everybody knows where we are, where we've been and how we compare."

According to the report, around 50,000 jobs were created between 2010-2015.

In 2015, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent, down from 4.6 in 2014. In that same time frame, population increased to 513,559 from 502,064 and the poverty level fell from 16.2 percent to 14.3 percent.

Deck said there's still more work to do, especially on education. The area just barely surpassed the U.S. average of adults with at least a Bachelor's Degree.

"What we want to see happen at the same time is wages grow, poverty shrink, education grow, and this to remain an affordable place to live," Deck said. "So those are the things that our decision makers need to work on and this data help support."

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