Every year, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) is required to rank each of the state’s 75 counties according to four economic variables: poverty rate, population growth, per capita personal income, and unemployment rate.
There are four tiers of the ranking, 1 through 4, with Tier 1 being the top tier and containing 15 counties. Tiers 2 thru 4 have 20 counties each.
Last year, and for the last few years, Independence County has been in Tier 1. And this year the county is back again in the top tier.
Independence County Judge Robert Griffin commented on the rankings and the county’s place in the top tier.
“One of the things is ‘average weekly earnings,'” Griffin told White River Now on Tuesday “They [AEDC] want to know how well our people are being paid. So we are paying competitive wages compared with other areas of the state. And that’s probably about as large as a factor there is.”
In this region of the state, the rankings show Izard, Jackson, and Sharp counties in Tier 4; Stone, Fulton, and Van Buren counties are in Tier 3; Cleburne and White counties are in Tier 2; and Independence and Baxter counties in Tier 1.
In the north central Arkansas area, Independence County, with an hourly average wage of $19.71 an hour, is the highest to Sharp County with the lowest at an average hourly wage of $13.62.
In the state, Benton County has the highest average hourly wage at $30.03, but living expenses can be hefty. Benton County, of course, is the home of the national retail giant, Walmart.
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