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Top 5 Industries in Arkansas: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?

By    |   Wednesday, 20 Jan 2016 07:31 PM

The top five industries in Arkansas are a diverse mix of traditional sectors of the economy and new technologies. While manufacturing is a key part of Arkansas’ economy in a broad sense, reportedly employing up to 13 percent of its workforce, there are specific manufacturing sectors that make up some of the top industries in Arkansas and lead the nation.

1. According to the Farm Bureau, agriculture is still the top industry in Arkansas, and was credited with “adding around $16 billion to the state’s economy annually.”

While cotton was once king among Arkansas’ crops, rice is Arkansas’ largest agricultural export currently, producing about half of all rice in the U.S.

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2. Given its central location within the United States, it’s no surprise that transportation and logistics figure prominently in Arkansas’ economy, which is home to some of the nation’s most trusted names in shipping.

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, "more than 85,000 Arkansans are employed at more than 80 distribution centers and 22 major trucking companies in the state." The EDC also claims that a fifth of Arkansas’ employers are connected to the transport of goods.

In addition, the manufacture of transportation equipment added another 12,000 jobs to the Arkansas economy.

3. Alongside Arkansas’ massive agriculture industry, food manufacturing goes beyond the sourcing of agricultural products to include the processing and packaging.

The EDC reported that “nearly 50,000 people are employed in the food manufacturing industry in Arkansas,” which, according to Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, accounted for nearly a third of all manufacturing jobs in the state.

4. Because of a heavily forested landscape, the production of paper and timber products is a top industry in Arkansas. The EDC reported nearly 25,000 people were employed in Arkansas’ forestry industry, which produces the fourth-largest amount of timber in the nation.

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5. Perhaps unexpectedly, the No.1 export in Arkansas is aerospace, which added $1.8 billion and 10,000 jobs to the economy, according to Arkansas Aerospace & Defense Alliance.

This relatively modern sector of technology rounds out the top five industries in Arkansas. The EDC defined aerospace exports as “aircraft and aircraft-related parts and services.”

The aerospace industry in Arkansas also included industry leaders in rocket and defense systems.

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The top five industries in Arkansas are a diverse mix of traditional sectors of the economy and new technologies. While manufacturing is a key part of Arkansas’ economy in a broad sense, there are specific manufacturing sectors that make up some of the state's top industries and lead the nation.
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2016-31-20
Wednesday, 20 Jan 2016 07:31 PM
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