What Are The Biggest Industries In Arkansas?

Hay bales in Arkansas.
Hay bales in Arkansas.

Arkansas is a state found in the Southern part of the US, and as of 2018, the state had a population of about three million people. The state is the country’s 29th largest regarding land area. Little Rock is the state capital, and it is the largest city found in the central part of the state. Here is a list of the largest industries in Arkansas

Agriculture industry

Agriculture is one of the leading industries in the state of Arkansas and contributes approximately $16 billion every year in the economy of the state. In the past, cotton was the leading cash crop in the state, but currently, rice is the largest agricultural export in Arkansas. The state produces half of all the rice production in the country. Towards the late 19th century and early 20th century, rice production in large scale took shape in the state. In 2001, rice production in the state accounted for about 45% of the total rice produced in the US. Most of the rice grown in Arkansas is in the east-central part of the state. Currently, Arkansas is ranked as the 3rd largest producer of cotton in the country. The state also has the fourth-highest yield of the cotton crop after the state of California, Arizona, and Missouri.

Transport And Logistics Industry

Given its central location, the state of Arkansas has one of the most comprehensive transportation infrastructure and a large and growing transport and logistics industry. The industry in the state employs more than 85,000 people who are working in more than 80 distribution centers spread across the state. Arkansas has 22 major trucking companies, and it is home to two transport and trucking companies found on the list of the largest 1,000 companies in the country. Out of the leading 25 largest employers in the state of Kansas, about 20% are in the transport sector, and they include companies such as JB Hunt, FedEx corporation, USA Truck, Dillard’s Inc., PAM transportation services, and Union Pacific Railroad. The State of Arkansas designated its first highway systems in 1924 and in 1926 it numbered its roads for the first time. Dollarway Road was the first paved roads in Arkansas, and it is also one of the first Interstate highway systems. Today Arkansas has large systems of state highways, and it includes 20 US routes and eight interstates. Some of the main air terminals in the state include Highfill’s Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and the Little Rock National Airport.

Aerospace And Defense Industry

The leading exports in Arkansas are Aerospace products and parts, which earns the state about $1.8 billion annually and employs more than 10,000 people in the fields ranging from engineers and researchers to machinists and mechanics. The aerospace industry in the state includes the leaders in the industry in rockets and defense systems. Arkansas is home to 180 aviation, aerospace, and defense companies which include Aero Jet, Rocketdyne, General Dynamics, and Dassault Falcon Jet which has built its world’s largest facility in central Arkansas. Aerospace products have always ranked as top exports, and it has experienced growth over the years. The Air Force Base in Little Rock is one among the five military installations found in different parts of the state, and currently, it is the 4th largest employer in the state.

Forestry And Timber Industry

The state of Arkansas is located within the prime are of the country’s wood basket. It is at the heart of the timber rich region in the US having forestland covering about 19 million acres, which is about half of the total land area in the state. About 58% of the timberland in the state, which is equivalent to 10.6 million acres, is privately owned by individuals and 25% is owned by Forest Industries, while 17% is under the ownership of the state, federal, and local government. There are four major regions of forests in the state, and they include the Ouachita Mountains, Ozark Mountains, Delta hardwoods, and the Coastal plains. The hardwoods account for 55% of the state’s forests, and pines account for 20%, while the remaining 17% is a mix of hardwoods and the Pines. Forest and timber in the state of Arkansas are among the leading cash crop, and in 1997 the harvest from the forest was valued at $976 million. The forest community in the state directly employs more than 47,000 people. 

Economy Of Arkansas

The five leading industries in the state of Arkansas is a mixture of new technologies and traditional sectors. Manufacturing is a key component in the economy of the state employing about 13% of the labor force in Arkansas. Some of the manufacturing sectors in the state are among the leading in the country. About 3% of the population is employed in agriculture, which is one of the major industries in the state ranking in 13th position in the whole country. The state of Arkansas is the country’s leader in the production of rice, turkeys, and broilers. It ranks among the top three in production of aquaculture, bullets, and cotton. Arkansas has been nicknamed the natural state, which was coined in the advertisements in the 1970s to encourage tourism. The name has persisted present day. There are 52 state parks in Arkansas, and the National Park Service manages seven properties in the state. In 2015, Arkansas’ economy produced gross domestic product of $119 billion and 6 out of the fortune 500 companies are in Arkansas, including the world leader chain-store Walmart. In 2010 the per capita income in Arkansas was $36,027.


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