Study ranks Arkansas economy 48th among US states, DC

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A recent study claims Arkansas sits near the bottom among states in terms of economic performance.

The study released Monday by the consumer finance site WalletHub ranked the Natural State 48 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state economic performance.

The study’s authors said they used 28 key indicators of economic performance and strength to develop a state’s score. The study then broke the indicators down into three categories: economic activity, economic health, and innovation potential, resulting in a cumulative ranking.

In the study’s calculations, economic activity ranking included change in GDP and share of fast-growing firms, with Arkansas ranking 40 out of 51.

Economic health used factors such as unemployment rate and median household income adjusted for cost of living, leading to a 38 ranking for Arkansas, its highest across the three categories.

Innovation potential factors, including the share of jobs in high-tech industries and inventor patents per 1,000 working-age population, led to an Arkansas ranking of 47. A factor in this score was a lowest-in-the-nation 51 ranking for Arkansas for the percentage of jobs in high-tech industries.

An additional low ranking found by the study’s authors was Arkansas coming in at 47 out of 51 for exports per capita.

“A strong state economy doesn’t guarantee success for the state’s residents, but it certainly makes financial success more attainable,” WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said. “Factors like a low unemployment rate and high average income help residents purchase property, pay down debt and save for the future.”

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission declined to comment on the study. A spokesperson did, however, point to other studies that showed economic successes in the state.

Those ADEC studies included Arkansas being the number four destination for inbound movers in 2023, number one for workforce development in the south-central region, and number three for the least expensive state to start a new business.

Washington was ranked number one in the study, with Mississippi finishing in the 51st spot.