Friday, August 5th, 2011

A Decade in State GDP Growth

Back in June the BEA released preliminary GDP estimates for states. I didn’t get around to looking at it at the time, but this gave us the first chance to take a look at state level GDP performance over the decade of the 2000’s. Here’s a look at total real GDP growth:

It should perhaps be unsurprising that total growth follows population size and population growth. You might think Texas would be #1 given the huge population growth it had, but Texas only came in #2, adding about $233B in GDP (2005 dollars). California actually topped the chart in raw growth, adding $261B. New York, Florida, and Virginia. Michigan and Ohio actually saw a shrinkage in total real GDP.

Of course small states would find it tough to compete on a total measure, so let’s take a look at percentage growth:

Wyoming tops the charts here, growing real GDP by 48.7%, followed closely by resource heavy North Dakota at 47.1%. Oregon, South Dakota, and Alaska top round out the top five. The map makes it obvious that the Midwest is the laggard here, with 7 of the bottom 10 states in percentage real GDP growth are in the Midwest.

I think GDP is a very key statistic since it measures a place’s ability to generate economic value. If you aren’t growing economic output, it’s hard to make progress on most other measures.

Beyond the total measures, per capita GDP is another key statistic. Here’s a map of percentage growth in per capita real GDP over the last decade.

North Dakota and Wyoming flip here, with ND growing by 40.3% and Wyoming by 30.3%. South Dakota, the District of Columbia (reported as if it were a state), and Oregon finish off the top five.

It’s interesting to see here that a place like Texas that added lots of people and GDP, didn’t grow its per capita output all that much – only by 5.6%. Their growth was nearly all of the “horizontal expansion” variety.

Several states also saw their real GDP decline. This includes places traditionally considered successes like Georgia. I’ve noted before the sharp decline in per capita GDP even in Atlanta, the state’s economic engine. A slew of other states were basically flat. Not good for them.

Topics: Economic Development

5 Responses to “A Decade in State GDP Growth”

  1. CityBeautiful21 says:

    This looks like Telestrian output, yes? Do you have the data to show this by county yet? Or are they still breaking that down at BEA?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, GA actually declined?

  3. Joseph E says:

    It would be interesting to see a by-county breakdown. I expect California would show slow or no growth in the southern Central Valley and inland Southern California, while San Diego, Sacramento, and the Bay Area would show strong GDP growth and per capita growth.

    I wonder where Oregon was growing, the number overall per capita looks very good. I was under the impression that the Portland metro area was lagging in job creation the past couple of years, but perhaps GDP is still growing strongly.

  4. Yes, I generated the maps with Telestrian.

    Right now GDP data is not available at the county level. It just isn’t calculated by the government. You can see it at the metro area level however. Here’s a previous article I wrote during that last data release:

  5. DBR96A says:

    Atlanta grew too fast in the 1990’s. By 2000, everybody all across the United States learned that Atlanta was now one of the “big boys,” and you had to move there if you wanted to get ahead in life. Add in a dash of promotion via hip-hop (Atlanta rappers dominated top-40 radio from 2000 to 2005), plus people fleeing all the hurricanes in Florida and Louisiana, and Atlanta’s population growth kept going even as its economy slowed down.

    Atlanta is at a crossroads now. I used to think it was kind of overrated, but it’s grown on me in the last 10 years, and it’s maturing as both a city and a metropolitan area. There’s a lot of potential in Atlanta, and I like a lot of what I’ve seen in terms of livability enhancements, but right now it needs to figure out either a) how to get back some of the economic momentum it’s lost in order to properly support its population growth, or b) accept that its high-growth days are behind it and use maturation as its primary economic vehicle.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

About the Urbanophile


Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

Full Bio


Please email before connecting with me on LinkedIn if we don't already know each other.



Copyright © 2006-2014 Urbanophile, LLC, All Rights Reserved - Click here for copyright information and disclosures