Which Counties Across the US Grew and Fell the Most in GDP Last Year?

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The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released their report on gross domestic product (GDP) by county for 2020 today. GDP is the value of goods and services produced within a county. The size of a county’s GDP varied greatly across the U.S., showing an unfortunate — but expected — overall decrease in county GDP measures.

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In 2020, the total level of real GDP ranged from $18.8 million in Petroleum County, MT to $659.3 billion in Los Angeles County, CA. Real GDP increased in 864 counties throughout the United States, but decreased in 2,234 countries, according to the estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The percent change in real GDP was broad ranging from 91% in Foard County, TX to a whopping -29% in Skagway Municipality, AK.

Among the 141 counties in the country with populations greater than 500,000 people in 2020, the report showed dismal growth. Real GDP increased in only 9 countries, with GDP decreasing in the other 132. 

Santa Clara County, CA was the fastest growing large country, with 4.4% real GDP growth. The information industry was the leading contributor to the country’s growth, which includes tech and various other online services. Queens County in New York had the largest percent decrease with a -11% decrease in GDP.

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Medium-sized counties with populations between 100,000 and 500,000 in 2020 saw GDP increases in 50 counties and decreases in 415 counties. GDP was unchanged in 2 medium-sized counties. Guadalupe County, TX was the fastest-growing medium county with 5.9%, led by the durable-goods manufacturing industry. Clayton County, GA had the largest percent decrease with -24.3% with the transportation and warehousing industry leading the decrease. 

In small-sized counties, those with populations less than 100,000 in 2020, real GDP increased in 805 counties and decreased in 1,687 counties, with 12 countied unchanged. Small-sized counties held the largest increases and decreases in real GDP in the country. Foard County, TX was the fastest growing small country, up a whopping 91%, led by utilities. Skagway Municipality in Arkansas had the largest percent decrease in GDP in the country, with -29%. The arts, entertainment and recreation industry was the leading contributor to the decrease.

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The Bureau stated that the 2020 estimates of local area GDP were impacted by the response to the spread of the pandemic, as governments issued and lifted stay at home orders and government pandemic assistance payments were distributed to households and businesses. 

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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