The Great Recession Discriminated Geographically

March 14th, 2011
in econ_news

gdp map_02-11 Econintersect:  The hardest hit areas in The Great Recession were concentrated in the southern areas of the far west, the Great Lakes and the southeast.  The areas with lesser impact were vast areas of the interior west, the Gulf coast, Alaska, Washington state and New York / New England.  The BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis) reports that the recession produced a decline of real GDP in 80% of 366 metropolitan statistical areas.

Follow up:

That means the top 20%, dark blue on the map below did not have a decline in real GDP during the downturn.  The light blue areas experienced a relatively mild downturn.  For all 366 statistical areas, real U.S. GDP by metropolitan area declined 2.4 percent in 2009 after declining 0.4 percent in 2008.

gdp map _2-11

The economic activities with the largest declines were  durable-goods manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services.

From the BEA news release:

The decline in durable-goods manufacturing hit the metropolitan areas of the Great Lakes region particularly hard. Kokomo, IN; Elkhart-Goshen, IN; Columbus, IN; and Holland-Grand Haven, MI had double-digit declines in real GDP growth primarily due to declines in durable-goods manufacturing. In the three Indiana metropolitan areas, durable-goods manufacturing subtracted more than ten percentage points from real GDP growth.

The continued decline in construction over the past few years adversely affected metropolitan areas in the Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Southeast, and Far West regions the most. Declines in construction continued in 2009 in places like Lake Havasu-Kingman, AZ; St. George, UT; Prescott, AZ; Naples-Marco Island, FL; and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL. In Las Vegas-Paradise, NV construction turned sharply downward in 2009. In all of these metropolitan areas, construction subtracted more than two percentage points from real GDP growth in 2009.

The effects of the decline in professional and business services was more widespread. In St. Louis, MO-IL; Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI; and Boulder, CO professional and business services subtracted more than two percentage points from real GDP growth in 2009. All of these metropolitan areas declined by more than the national average.

In contrast to most industries, natural resources and mining was a strong positive contributor to growth in 2009. Significant growth in mining resulted from sharp declines in prices for petroleum, natural gas, and other mining products. Growth accelerated in 70 metropolitan areas, most notably in areas where natural resources and mining industries are concentrated such as Casper, WY and Oklahoma City, OK. Casper, WY had the fastest real GDP growth (22.4 percent) of any metropolitan area in 2009 due largely to growth in the mining sector. The natural resources and mining industry contributed more than ten percentage points to growth in several areas such as Casper, WY; Oklahoma City, OK; and Shreveport-Bossier City, LA. In addition to natural resources and mining, several metropolitan areas with large concentrations in nondurable-goods manufacturing—Pascagoula, MS; Vallejo-Fairfield, CA; and Lake Charles, LA—grew significantly in 2009.

Tables 1-4 [XLS] show these results in more detail; complete detail is available on BEA's Web site at


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