Economy of Arkansas

Last updated
Economy of Arkansas
2003 AR Proof.png
GDP $118,907 million [1]
GDP per capita
$39,107 [2]
Population below poverty line
19.1% [3]
0.4773 [4]
Labor force
1,349,512 [5]
Unemployment4.0% [6]
Public finances
Revenues$4,604 million [7]
Expenses$4,604 million [7]

The economy of Arkansas produced US$119 billion of gross domestic product in 2015. [1] Six Fortune 500 companies are based in Arkansas, including the world's #1 corporation, Walmart. [8] Arkansas's per capita income for 2010 was $36,027. [2] The three-year median household income from 2009-11 was $39,806, ranking forty-ninth in the nation. [9]

Arkansas State of the United States of America

Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

<i>Fortune</i> 500 annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine

The Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. The list includes publicly held companies, along with privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. The concept of the Fortune 500 was created by Edgar P. Smith, a Fortune editor, and the first list was published in 1955. The Fortune 500 is more commonly used than its subset Fortune 100 or superset Fortune 1000.

Walmart U.S. discount retailer based in Arkansas

Walmart Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31, 1969. It also owns and operates Sam's Club retail warehouses. As of January 31, 2019, Walmart has 11,348 stores and clubs in 27 countries, operating under 55 different names. The company operates under the name Walmart in the United States and Canada, as Walmart de México y Centroamérica in Mexico and Central America, as Asda in the United Kingdom, as the Seiyu Group in Japan, and as Best Price in India. It has wholly owned operations in Argentina, Chile, Canada, and South Africa. Since August 2018, Walmart only holds a minority stake in Walmart Brasil, with 20% of the company's shares, and private equity firm Advent International holding 80% ownership of the company.


According to CNBC, Arkansas currently ranks as the 35th best state for business, with the 10th-lowest cost of doing business, 8th-lowest cost of living, 41st best workforce, 29th-best economic climate, 41st-best educated workforce, 41st-best infrastructure and the 32nd-friendliest regulatory environment. Arkansas gained twelve spots in the best state for business rankings since 2011. [10]

CNBC American television news channel

CNBC is an American pay television business news channel that is owned by NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News, a division of NBCUniversal, with both being ultimately owned by Comcast. Headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, the network primarily carries business day coverage of U.S. and international financial markets; following the end of the business day and on non-trading days, CNBC primarily carries financial and business-themed documentaries and reality shows.

Arkansas ranks as one of the top states for charitable giving. [11] In 2011, Arkansans gave 6.3% of their discretionary income to charity, ranking it as the seventh-most generous state. [12] The Pine Bluff metropolitan area ranked as the seventh-most charitable metro area in the nation during the same time period.

Pine Bluff metropolitan area

The Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is a three-county region in southeast Arkansas, anchored by the city of Pine Bluff. As of the 2010 census, the MSA had a population of 100,258. It is also a component of the larger Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR Combined Statistical Area which had 902,443 people in the census estimates of 2014.


The state's 2011 exports totaled $5.6 billion. [13] Civilian aircraft was the primary export from Arkansas in 2011 in terms of market share, worth approximately half a billion dollars. Poultry, cotton, rice, graders, ammunition, organic chemicals, steel, and shock absorbers are also important exports from Arkansas. Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation in Little Rock is one of the largest foreign-owned corporations in Arkansas. [14]

Grader construction machine

A grader, also commonly referred to as a road grader or a motor grader, is a construction machine with a long blade used to create a flat surface during the grading process. Although the earliest models were towed behind horses or other powered equipment, most modern graders contain an engine so are known, technically erroneously, as "motor graders". Typical models have three axles, with the engine and cab situated above the rear axles at one end of the vehicle and a third axle at the front end of the vehicle, with the blade in between. Most motor graders drive the rear axles in tandem, but some also add front wheel drive to improve grading capability. Many graders also have optional attachments for the rear of the machine which can be ripper, scarifier, blade, or compactor. In certain countries, for example in Finland, almost every grader is equipped with a second blade that is placed in front of the front axle. For snowplowing and some dirt grading operations, a side blade can also be mounted. Some construction personnel refer to the entire machine as "the blade". Capacities range from a blade width of 2.50 to 7.30 m and engines from 93–373 kW. Certain graders can operate multiple attachments, or be designed for specialized tasks like underground mining.

Shock absorber mechanical or hydraulic device designed to absorb, smooth out or damp any sudden shock impulse and dissipate kinetic energy (typically heat); usually consists of a combination of a spring and a dashpot; most shock absorbers are a form of dashpot

A shock absorber is a mechanical or hydraulic device designed to absorb and damp shock impulses. It does this by converting the kinetic energy of the shock into another form of energy which is then dissipated. Most shock absorbers are a form of dashpot.

Dassault Aviation Aerospace manufacturer in France

Dassault Aviation SA is an international French aircraft manufacturer of military, regional, and business jets, and is a subsidiary of Dassault Group.

Arkansas's primary exporting partners in 2011 included Canada (24.9%), Mexico (12.1%), China (7.4%), Japan (3.8%), South Korea (3.5%), France (3.0%), and Singapore (3.0%). [15]

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The state also ranks third in terms of channel catfish aquaculture, with about 19,200 acres (78 km2) under catfish farming in 2010. The peak of catfish farming in the state was in the year 2002, when 38,000 acres (150 km2) were under farming. In 2007, the state’s catfish producers generated sales of $71.5 million – 16 percent of the total U.S. market. [16] Arkansas was the first state to develop commercial catfish farms in the late 1950s. The number of catfish farms in the state grew through the 1990s as farmers entered the catfish business as a way to provide additional income during a time of low prices for cotton and soybeans.

Channel catfish species of fish

The channel catfish is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States, they are the most fished catfish species with around 8 million anglers targeting them per year. The popularity of channel catfish for food has contributed to the rapid expansion of aquaculture of this species in the United States.

Aquaculture Farming of aquatic organisms

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish. Mariculture refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments and in underwater habitats.

Arkansas's largest companies

Walmart Home Office in Bentonville Walmart Home Office sign.jpg
Walmart Home Office in Bentonville

Public companies

The following table lists the public companies headquartered in Arkansas with 2017 revenues placing them in the Fortune 1000 largest U.S. companies. [8]

State Rank
by Revenue
Company NameNational
Revenue ($billions)
2012 estimate
Headquarters City NAICS Sector
1 Walmart 1500.3 Bentonville Retail Trade/Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters
2 Tyson Foods 8038.3 Springdale All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing
3 Murphy USA 27910.9 El Dorado Convenience Stores
4 J. B. Hunt 3957.2 Lowell Freight Transportation Arrangement
5 Dillard's 4396.4 Little Rock Department Stores
6 Windstream 4745.8Little RockCommunication Services, not elsewhere classified
7 ArcBest Corporation 7632.8 Fort Smith General Freight Trucking
8 Murphy Oil 9022.2El DoradoCrude Petroleum Extraction

Private companies

The following table lists the only privately held companies headquartered in Arkansas with 2011 revenues over $1 billion. [17]

State Rank
by Revenue
Company NameNational
($billions) 2007 estimate
EmployeesHeadquarters CityNAICS Sector
1Golden Living1542.7342,000Fort SmithOther Individual and Family Services



The nuclear reactors at Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville provide the state of Missouri and other states with electricity. Arkansas Nuclear One cooling tower.jpg
The nuclear reactors at Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville provide the state of Missouri and other states with electricity.
Beaver Dam in Carroll County is capable of producing 340 megawatts (460,000 hp) of energy at capacity. Beaver Dam in Arkansas.jpg
Beaver Dam in Carroll County is capable of producing 340 megawatts (460,000 hp) of energy at capacity.

Arkansas produced 588,700,000,000,000 British thermal units (1.725×1011 kWh) in 2007, mostly from coal, petroleum, nuclear, and renewable energy sources. [18] In 2007, 46.2% of Arkansas's energy production was from natural gas, 27.6% from nuclear power, 19.9% from renewable sources, 6.2% from fossil fuels. [19] Arkansas imports petroleum for use in the transportation sector but is a net exporter of electric power, selling 20,400,000,000,000 British thermal units (6.0×109 kWh) to the national electric grid in 2007. [20] The rural nature of Arkansas causes Arkansans to spend more on energy than the national average. Due to transmission, 65% of electricity was lost on its way to consumers in 2007. [21] The state's low population density results in higher electricity costs and more gallons of fuel used per vehicle. [22] Arkansas consumes more natural gas and renewable energy and less fossil fuels than the national average. [23]

Petroleum production in Arkansas began with a boom in the early 1920s in southern Arkansas. Largely produced by Union, Lafayette, Columbia, and Ouachita counties, the boom began when the Busey Well No. 1 was completed on January 10, 1921. The region, especially El Dorado and Smackover, oil production exploded into a large part of the Arkansas economy. Today, petroleum is a minor piece of the state economy, yet the industry remains one of the largest employers in the region. Today, remnants of the oil boom include Murphy Oil, a gasoline retailer and Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, which informs visitors of the history of oil in the area. Two refineries, the El Dorado Refinery and the Smackover Refinery produce a combined 76,800 bbl/d (12,210 m3/d).

Natural gas has become an important source of energy and economic activity in north central Arkansas. Hydraulic fracturing in the Fayetteville Shale has impacted much of the region's economy, including Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Van Buren, and White counties. [24] The state ranked 12th in terms of marketed production of natural gas in 2007. [25] However, health and environmental concerns, including the possible responsibility for earthquakes called the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm have slowed the continued development of activity in the region. [26] [27] [28]

Although accounting for a small portion of Arkansas's energy production mixture, coal reserves are being mined in the state. Coal is mostly located in the Arkansas River Valley in western Arkansas. The state has significant lignite deposits as well. Arkansas coal has very low sulfur content compared to national averages.

Renewable energy plays an important role in Arkansas's energy production and consumption cycle. The state's energy mix included 10% renewables, compared to a national average of 5.7%, in 2007. [29] Hydroelectric power is the state's largest source of renewable energy. Dams such as Beaver, Bull Shoals, Greers Ferry, and Dardanelle Lock and Dam all have capability of producing hydroelectric power. [30] Although Arkansas ranks 27th nationally in wind energy potential, the state has few wind turbines installed. [31] However, the world's largest turbine blade manufacturer, LM Wind Power and Nordex, a turbine component company have both added facilities in the state. [32]

State taxes

Arkansas imposes a state income tax with six brackets, ranging from 1.0% to 7.0%. The first $9,000 of military pay of enlisted personnel is exempt from Arkansas tax; officers do not have to pay state income tax on the first $6,000 of their military pay. Retirees pay no tax on Social Security, or on the first $6,000 in gain on their pensions along with recovery of cost basis. Residents of Texarkana, Arkansas are exempt from Arkansas income tax; wages and business income earned there by residents of Texarkana, Texas are also exempt. Arkansas's gross receipts (sales) tax and compensating (use) tax rate is currently 6%. The state has also mandated that various services be subject to sales tax collection. They include wrecker and towing services; for-hire transportation; [33] dry cleaning and laundry; body piercing, tattooing and electrolysis; pest control; security and alarm monitoring; self-storage facilities; boat storage and docking; and pet grooming and kennel services.

Along with the state sales tax, there are more than 300 local taxes in Arkansas. Cities and counties have the authority to enact additional local sales and use taxes if they are passed by the voters in their area. These local taxes have a ceiling or cap; they cannot exceed $25 for each 1% of tax assessed. These additional taxes are collected by the state, which distributes the money back to the local jurisdictions monthly. Low-income taxpayers with a total annual household income of less than $12,000 are permitted a sales tax exemption for electricity usage.

Sales of alcoholic beverages account for added taxes. A 10% supplemental mixed drink tax is imposed on the sale of alcoholic beverages (excluding beer) at restaurants. A 4% tax is due on the sale of all mixed drinks (except beer and wine) sold for "on-premises" consumption. A 3% tax is due on beer sold for off-premises consumption.

Property taxes are assessed on real and personal property; only 20% of the value is used as the tax base.

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