A federal Bureau of Economic Analysis report showing Arkansas having the nation’s fastest growing gross domestic product has led to some head-scratching among economists, but there’s little doubt that forestry is an upward mover in the state’s economy, said economist Matthew Pelkki.

Pelkki is associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center and professor within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and is based at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Pelkki is also the George H. Clippert Endowed Chair within UAM’s School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

The report, released on Wednesday, covers the 2016 first quarter. It defines the gross domestic product of a state as the market value of goods and services produced by the labor and property located in a state.

Arkansas’ first quarter GDP grew by 3.9 percent, the report said, powered by a 2.21 percent rise in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. Other areas showing growth in Arkansas were the information sector, up .48 percent; retail trade, up .45 percent; construction up .28 percent; non-durable goods manufacturing up .26 percent; and finance and insurance, up .04 percent.

There were contractions in mining and durable goods manufacturing, both down .16 percent; utilities, down .17 percent; and transportation and warehousing, down .25 percent. Driving growth were the needs of an expanding housing market for flooring, cabinetry and framing, as well as rising demand for consumer products, along with its need for more packaging and pallets for shipping.

From The Magnolia Reporter: http://www.magnoliareporter.com/news_and_business/local_business/article_21c70580-55d1-11e6-a27f-8b9e3346fe26.html