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Visualizing 20 American Cities with Economies as Big as Countries

The U.S. accounts for one-fourth of the entire world economy, or about $21.44T in nominal GDP. It can be hard to comprehend just how big that is, so we created a new map comparing the GDP of individual cities against entire countries.

US cities by GDP

  • New York boasts the largest GDP of any metro area in the U.S. at $1.8T, the same size as the entire Canadian economy.
  • Los Angeles also has a GDP over $1T, roughly the same size as Malaysia.
  • Other large cities have enormous economies. Four urban areas contribute more than $500B in GDP, including Chicago ($689B), San Francisco ($549), Washington, DC ($541B) and Dallas ($512B).
  • Even smaller American cities have enormous economic weight. Riverside-San Bernardino is the smallest one on our map, and it still generates $187B in GDP, or about as much as Slovakia.

We created our visual comparing GDP between U.S. cities and other countries by gathering data from two places. The World Bank publishes GDP figures for every country in the world, supplying estimates whenever official numbers are difficult to find. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis breaks down GDP by metro areas, letting you easily see the biggest economic engines in the country. Combining the datasets to create our map indicates just how big the U.S. economy truly is.

Top 10 Largest U.S. Cities by GDP

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City: $1.8T
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim: $1T
3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin: $689B
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley: $549B
5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria: $541B
6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington: $513B
7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land: $479B
8. Boston-Cambridge-Newton: $464B
9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington: $444B
10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta: $397B

The greater New York metro area alone accounts for the same amount of GDP as the entire country of Canada ($1.8T). Even mid-sized cities like Riverside-San Bernardino, CA generate as much economic output as member countries in the EU, like Slovakia. Dallas is about as important from a pure GDP perspective as Hong Kong ($512B), which has its own stock exchange. Chicago alone carries as much economic weight as Iraq ($689B), and the latter has an astonishing 145 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves.

The U.S. economy is mighty indeed, but there are lots of ways it could teeter in the future. The escalating coronavirus is already starting to have an impact on the stock market. The ongoing Boeing 737 Max crisis could mean the American economy grows less than 3% this year. At the same time, a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada might counteract these forces and stimulate the economy. All of which is to say we don’t really know how these numbers will change from year to year, however the size of the U.S. economy is quite impressive.

Are you surprised at how large the U.S. economy is? Which countries did you not expect to find in our visualization? Let us know in the comments.

About the article


Juan Carlos