Low unemployment, affordable housing, strong healthcare access and below-average poverty rates are the positives in the Little Rock Metropolitan area. Some negatives: a high crime rate, fewer professional and technical jobs than other cities, low employment specialization, and slow growth in the ratio of large to small businesses. That’s according to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Arkansas Economic Development Institute’s fourth annual Little Rock Metro Report Card, released Thursday.
The institute compared Little Rock’s performance along these indicators to 13 other metropolitan areas in the South. The study measured data for Metropolitan Statistical Areas, or MSA’s. The area of Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway comprised a single MSA.
Greg Hamilton, a senior research economist at the AEID said in a webinar Thursday that the report drew data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The study analyzed data from 2010 to 2016.
Hamilton said the study’s methodology improved upon previous metro report card studies.
“We wanted to become more statistically oriented and say well, this is good and this is bad, but we haven’t been able to say how much better and how much worse because we’d just be ordering things. So we wanted to get a sense of quantitative measurements in here,” Hamilton said.
Little Rock ranked 9th among the 14 cities. Austin, Texas ranked number one and Greensboro, North Carolina ranked last.
Read a PowerPoint presentation of the report here.
KUAR is licensed to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.