March 16, 2020--Job growth in Jonesboro is among the best in the nation according to new data published by Headlight Data.
In Headlight Data’s Metro Economic Scorecard for 2019, Jonesboro ranked as the top small metropolitan area in the State of Arkansas and 32nd nationally among 281 small metros. A small metro is a metropolitan area with a population of fewer than 500,000 people. In Arkansas, that includes Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, and Fort Smith.
Other Arkansas small metros showed little or no gain in year-to-year job growth with Hot Springs joining Jonesboro as the only other Arkansas small metro showing job gains in 2019. Hot Springs showed 1% growth and ranked 133rd nationally. Fort Smith showed no gain or loss, at 0%. That numbed placed the city at 215th nationally. Pine Bluff’s negative job growth number of -1.8% put them at the virtual bottom of the list, 277th out of 281 cities.
Jonesboro has been consistent in recent years in terms of positive job growth, often finding itself among the best small metros in the country. Since October of 2015, Jonesboro has been in the top 5% four times. October of 2015 saw 4.3% job growth. March of 2016 was 3.9%. In April of 2016, the city stayed over 4% again at 4.1%. And in February of 2017, Jonesboro placed in the 96th percentile with 3.8% job growth.
In the same report, Headlight Data calculated that the Jonesboro economy added 1,500 direct new jobs from December of 2018 through December of 2019. That number, taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, outpaces the figures generated through the Jonesboro Unlimited (JU) Annual Survey of New and Expanded Industry. Based on the survey in JU’s 2019 annual report, Jonesboro added 939 direct, new jobs. The results of the Jonesboro Unlimited survey come from JU’s five targeted industries: manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, professional services, and agriculture. It does not take into account other vital sectors of the economy, such as retail and hospitality.
In 2017, Jonesboro Unlimited announced bold job goals as part of its Momentum Jonesboro campaign. As part of its five-year strategic plan, JU announced a goal of 2,500 direct, new jobs across its five target industries by the end of 2021. As announced in February, that goal was surpassed in just three years.