New County-Level GDP Data Shows That All Economics Is Local

Dec 12, 2019

The U.S. economy has been growing at a steady pace for years. But on the county level, across the country and especially in the Mountain West, changes in gross domestic product, or GDP, vary widely.

New county-level data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis—the agency’s first release of such data—make that clear. While the agency found that more than three times as many counties saw economic growth compared to those that saw declines, BEA economist Mauricio Ortiz says it all depends on where you live.

“At a local level, at a county level, your economy and your experience may be very different than what the national total is doing, or even what the state is doing, or even what your neighboring county may be doing,” Ortiz said.

He says researchers found that larger counties are seeing expansions in service industries, while smaller counties are experiencing growth in extraction or in agriculture. But there’s no throughline to be found in the data.

“There isn’t one sort of general pattern, even within the Mountain West region, that changes,” Ortiz said. “It’s really sort of a county experience.”

Data from every county in the country can be found here.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.