The Milken Institute returned Northwest Arkansas, home of Siloam Springs, to its Top 25 Best-Performing Cities, releasing a report that showed the strength of the region's economy compared to all the nation's metropolitan statistical areas. Northwest Arkansas (the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA) moved up five spots and now sits at No. 25 in the annual ranking. The ranking is based on each large metropolitan area’s job growth, wage growth, high-tech job growth and high-tech wage growth.
Northwest Arkansas is home to almost a half-million people, with Benton and Washington counties in particular experiencing an average population growth of at least 2.4 percent; Siloam Springs is located in Benton County. This annual growth has been faster than the U.S. average since 1971 and the fastest of any MSA in Arkansas, according to a profile by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The MSA’s population growth goes hand-in-hand with strong growth in real income per capita. Per capita income in Northwest Arkansas has grown about 2 percent annually since 1970, compared with 1.4 percent in the U.S. as a whole. At these rates, Northwest Arkansas doubles its income every 35 years, while the U.S. needs 50 years to do the same, according to the Federal Reserve.
In 2013, the region's economy (measured by real gross metropolitan product) grew by 5.6 percent, three times the national rate and much faster than the nearby MSAs of Little Rock, Ark.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Springfield, Mo. In fact, only 25 of the nation's 381 MSAs experienced faster growth in 2013, placing Northwest Arkansas firmly in the top 10 percent of the fastest-growing MSAs in the nation.
The Northwest Arkansas Council maintains a library of data downloads for the entire metro area.