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Arkansas Economy

The United States has become a service economy and many states, Arkansas included, generate most of its revenue through service industries.


According to the Arkansas State Agricultural Overview, 2004, produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmland covers approximately 36% of the state. Livestock products add up to about 63% of the state's agricultural revenue. About 37% of the state's production is in crops.

In terms of revenue generated, Arkansas's top five agricultural products are broilers (young chickens), rice, soybeans, cattle and calves, and cotton.


The most important livestock products produced in Arkansas are broilers, young chickens sold as chicken parts or whole chickens. Arkansas is one of the top two states, along with Georgia, producing the nation's broilers. Broilers account for about 41% of the state's livestock production.

Cattle and calves contribute about 8% of the state's livestock production.

Chicken eggs, turkeys, and aquaculture complete the list of the top five livestock commodities produced in the state.


This state's most important crop is rice. Arkansas is the leading producer of rice in the United States, providing about 46% of the nation's supply.

Arkansas grows lots of soybeans and ranks 10th in the nation.

Cotton, corn for grain, and wheat round out Arkansas's most valuable five crops.

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Manufacturers add value to raw products by creating manufactured items. For example, cotton cloth becomes more valuable than a boll of cotton through manufacturing processes.

Food products lead the manufacturing sector in terms of value added. Food products include animal feed, bakery goods, canned vegetables, cottonseed oil, meats, milk, poultry, rice, and soft drinks. Tyson foods, the world's largest poultry producer and processor, is located in Springdale.

Manufactured paper products (paperboard boxes, paper) rank second after food products.

A wide variety of other products are manufactured in Arkansas. They include industrial and agricultural chemicals, electrical products (electric motors, household appliances, measuring and lighting devices), fabricated metal products (valves, pipe fittings), machinery (heating and cooling equipment, metalworking machinery), plastics and rubber products, transportation products (motor vehicle/aerospace parts), and wood products (lumber, plywood, pulp paper).


Natural gas is Arkansas's most important mined product. Most natural gas is mined in the northwestern part of the state.

Petroleum is the second most valuable product mined in the Arkansas. Most of the state's production is from large oil fields along the southern border with Louisiana, another leading petroleum state.

Bromine (used in dyes, photograph development, gasoline additive) and crushed stone are other important mined products. Arkansas is a leading producer of bromine.

Other mined products include cement, clays, coal, gypsum, limestone, novaculite (used as sharpening stones), quartz, sand and gravel, soapstone, tripoli, and vanadium.


As one might expect, most of Arkansas's service industries are found in metropolitan areas of the state's major cities; Little Rock; Fort Smith; Fayetteville; Jonesboro; Pine Bluff; Springdale; Conway; Rogers; and Hot Springs.

The leading service industries of Arkansas are the wholesale (automobiles, farm products, mined products) and retail (department stores, discount stores, food stores) services group. The leading discount chain, Wal-Mart, is based in Bentonville.

Ranking second in the services sector, is the community, business, and personal services group. This group includes private health care services, nursing and rest homes, law firms, motels, and repair shops.

The government (public schools, public hospitals, military bases) and finance, insurance, and real estate group is ranked third, contributing about the same to Arkansas's economy. As well as hosting the largest military base in the state, Little Rock Air Force Base, Little Rock is considered the state's major center of finance.

Ranking fifth in the services sector is the transportation (leading trucking companies, several railroads), communication (telecommunications), and utilities (electric, gas, water) service group.


John G. Hehr and Larry D. Ball, Sr., "Arkansas," World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/030080, August 14, 2001.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Statistics Service, "Arkansas State Agriculture Overview, 2004", 3 January 2006, <http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Ag_Overview/AgOverview_AR.pdf> (12 January 2006)

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