Population Change

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2023 population estimates released today, 39 of the 75 counties in Arkansas gained population from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023. The fastest-growing counties were in the Northwest or Central regions of the state. Benton County led with a population increase of 2.7%, followed by Washington and Faulkner Counties at 1.9%.

There were 36 counties that lost population between 2022 and 2023. The majority of these counties were located in the Delta or Southwest regions of the state. Chicot County experienced the largest decline (-3.0%), followed by Desha County (-2.6%) and Phillips County (-2.5%).

In terms of numeric change, there were four counties with an increase of at least 2,000 people from 2022 to 2023.  Those counties were Benton, Washington, Faulkner, and Saline.  Benton County experienced the largest growth of 8,191 people.

Population Size

Pulaski County remains the most populous county in the state with 400,009 people, followed by Benton County (311,013) and Washington County (261,549). Conversely, Calhoun County was the least populated county with 4,641 residents.

The ten largest counties have remained the same since 2020.  However, in 2023 Sebastian County moved down in rank from fourth to sixth.  Faulkner and Saline Counties increased in population between 2022 and 2023 to overtake Sebastian County.

Components of Change

The Vintage 2023 estimates also include components of resident population change that help explain how counties are gaining or losing population. These components are vital events (births and deaths) and net migration. Net migration looks into both international and domestic migration.

Natural Decrease and Increase

The vast majority of counties in Arkansas (66 or 88.0%) had a natural decrease from 2022 to 2023. This means that more deaths occurred than births. This is a trend that can be seen nationwide as the population is aging.

There were nine counties that experienced a natural increase (more births than deaths) from 2022 to 2023. The largest natural increase occurred in Benton and Washington Counties (1,697 and 1,410, respectively).

Net Migration

More counties in Arkansas experienced a positive net migration (50) than a negative migration (25). Positive net migration means that there were more people moving into the county than out of the county. Benton, Washington, and Saline Counties had the largest net migration in the state (6,472, 3,421, and 2,136 respectively). Most of the migration in Benton County was domestic versus international (5,376 versus 1,096).

Jefferson County had the largest negative net migration with 441 more people moving out of than into the county. Phillips County experienced the next largest negative net migration, losing 319 people.

For More Information

If you are interested in exploring more population estimates for Arkansas you can visit this page.