LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The fastest-growing counties and metropolitan area in Arkansas over the past decade were in the state’s northwest region, according to data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Benton County had the state’s fastest growth, with its population increasing by 28.5% since 2010 to 284,333. The second fastest growing, Washington County, saw its population increase by about 21% to 245,871.
The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan area grew by 24.2% to 546,725. The region is home to the headquarters of Walmart and Tyson Foods, as well as the University of Arkansas’ flagship campus in Fayetteville.
Overall, Arkansas’ population increased by 3.3% to 3,011,524.
Pulaski County, where Little Rock is located, remained the state’s largest and grew by 4.3% to 399,125 people. The Little Rock metropolitan area, which includes Conway and North Little Rock, grew by nearly 7% to 748,031.
Pine Bluff’s metropolitan area had the largest percentage drop in population in Arkansas and the country, dropping by 12.5% since 2010 to 87,751.
The percentage of people in Arkansas who identify as white alone, not Hispanic or Latino, dropped from 74.5% in 2010 to 68.5% in 2020, while those who identify as Black alone, not Hispanic or Latino, dropped from 15.3% to 14.9% and remained the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the state.
The percentage of people in Arkansas who identify as Hispanic or Latino grew from 6.4% in 2010 to 8.5% in 2020.
Arkansas lawmakers will use the data to redraw the boundaries for the state’s four congressional districts. The Legislature is expected to reconvene next month for a special session to take up redistricting.
The state Board of Apportionment, which is comprised of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state, will use the numbers to redraw the boundaries for the state’s 100 House and 35 Senate districts. All 135 seats will be up in next year’s election.