The Metroplan annual trends report for the Central Arkansas region the planning agency covers focuses on housing. It continues to show slow growth (greater in counties outside Pulaski) and notes the damaging impact of the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the economy in Central Arkansas. Prior to the pandemic, a strong economy was pushing housing costs upward. Compared with the U.S. average, homeowners in Central Arkansas generally get a lot of house for their money. Local costs are also moderate for renters. However, almost 50 percent of renters in Central Arkansas have incomes below $35,000, meaning the local share of cost-stressed renters is well above the U.S. average. This edition also gives rankings of housing and income inequality as compared with other metro areas.
Housing construction continues across the region. Several large multi-family projects begun prior to the Covid crisis are still under construction. Single-family housing construction has slowed. In May 2020 the region saw about 75 percent as many single-family permits as in May of 2019.
Additional highlights include:
By January 1, 2020, regional population had reached approximately 750,000, or three-quarters of a million.
Slow but steady population growth continues. Saline County is the region’s fastest-growing area.
African-American homeownership in the Little Rock metro ranks 30 th among the top 100 metros in the country, with 43.7 percent of local African-American households owning their own homes.
Median household income for African Americans in the Little Rock region stands at 59.4 percent of white household income. This ranks the region in the middle among the largest 100 U.S. metros.
During April 2020, the month of greatest coronavirus “lockdown”, regional employment dropped by 37,000 jobs from April 2019. In May 2020 local unemployment was 10.1 percent, down from 10.9 percent in April.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an unprecedented rise in pedestrian and biking activity in the region.
Population notes: The region has annual population growth of about .71 percent, against .37 percent for the state and .66 percent for the U.S. The breakdown: