In One Map: Where the U.S. Economy is Built
Economic growth headlines the news in good times and bad. Financial analysts continually forecast and tweak outlooks for the U.S. and the global economy. With the holiday season coming to an end, Americans spent 3.4% more than the prior year on top of an 18.8% growth in online sales. Although the political focus has been on manufacturing growth, services still contribute more than any other component to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. But is this economic creation equal across the U.S.?
- California, Texas, and New York make up nearly 1/3rd of the U.S. GDP.
- Rural and less populated states and counties tend to contribute less to the U.S. GDP.
- The total population within a given area correlates with GDP output, not necessarily population density.
- States like Washington and Texas will be hit disproportionately by the tariff wars.
- 6 of the top 20 counties are located in California.
- The top 35 counties make up 1/3rd of the U.S. GDP.
Our visualization pulls together data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Activity and maps out GDP by county using 2012 chained dollars. The map looks at each county’s production towards GDP, whether through manufacturing, services, or otherwise. As you look through the data, consider how these highlighted areas line up with population centers and large cities across the United States. Think about what each state produces, what are their most profitable industries, as well as their growth potential.
Top 10 States Contributing to GDP
1. California - 14.6%
2. Texas - 9.2%
3. New York - 7.7%
4. Florida - 5.0%
5. Illinois - 4.1%
6. Pennsylvania - 3.8%
7. Ohio - 3.2%
8. New Jersey - 3.0%
9. Georgia - 2.8%
10. Washington - 2.7%
Top 10 Counties Contributing to GDP
1. Los Angeles, California - 3.8%
2. New York, New York - 3.2%
3. Cook, Illinois - 1.9%
4. Harris, Texas - 1.9%
5. Santa Clara, California - 1.7%
6. King, Washington - 1.5%
7. Dallas, Texas - 1.3%
8. Orange Country, California - 1.2%
9. Maricopa, Arizona - 1.2%
10. San Diego, California - 1.2%
While countries measure their success through GDP, individual states and counties do as well. That’s why the recent readings of a paltry 3rd quarter GDP in the U.S. caused some worry.
While consumer spending continues to bolster the economy, people really worry about the longevity. Even politicians understand their futures rely on economic success. That’s why the recent relief in the trade war abated some pressures on growth. It provides much-needed clarity for counties and states that rely on trade.
The interesting part of the data is who drives the GDP in each county. L.A. county certainly creates massive output through film and industry. Yet, manufacturing states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania don’t come up too far behind. The Bay Area is home to tech giants that rose in prominence in the last decade. But will they stand the test of time?
Population centers change over time. The midwest rustbelt fell out of favor as steel production shipped overseas. Tariffs hope to bring back the dying industry. But so far, the large cities attract talent with high paying jobs in service industries. The real question is what this map will look like in 5, 10, or even 50 years. Will the population be the key driver given the increases in automation? Let us know your thoughts.
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