The regional planning agency Metroplan is releasing its 2013 report on demographics and employment in Central Arkansas.
Research planner Jonathan Lupton notes population estimates show the region is still growing on trend - a little faster than the state and national average.
The report shows the region’s fastest growth is in Faulkner and Saline Counties, fed mainly by in-migration rather than natural increase.
“We're still seeing that the outlying counties are growing faster than Pulaski County, but not by as much as they were in the past. There was a time back in the 1990s when population growth was virtually at a standstill in Pulaski County and all of the outlying counties were growing really rapidly, and that has changed,” says Lupton.
Lupton notes that a look at the absolute numbers shows Pulaski County grew by about 8,000 people from 2010 to 2013. That's more than Faulkner County, which grew by a little more than 6,000 people during that time.
Lupton says as he was combing through the data, he discovered that female labor force participation in Central Arkansas runs above the national average.
While it's true that Central Arkansas has a lower unemployment rate than the national average, it's also true that the rate of job growth has been slower than the national average.
Construction of single-family homes in Central Arkansas remains down since the housing bust. Lupton says the figures show the numbers have not come back up yet. He says the figures are down at about 45% of where the region was before the recession hit. However, he says multi-family construction – housing like apartments and other buildings with multiple units – continues to move upward in Central Arkansas and was growing faster than the national average during the recession.