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Useful Stats: GDP Per Capita by State, 2015-2016

May 11, 2017

Every state and the District of Columbia experienced real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The positive news means only energy-dependent Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming saw real GDP fall over the year compared to the end of 2015. Experiencing growth of more than 5 percent between 2015 and 2016 were the District of Columbia, Nevada, Utah and Washington.

On a per capita basis, the states experiencing the largest growth in GDP for 2016 were California (4.2 percent), New Hampshire (4.0 percent), District of Columbia (3.8%), Hawaii (3.7 percent), Ohio (3.6 percent) and Rhode Island (3.6 percent). GDP per capita ranges from $75,822 in Massachusetts to $36,208 in Mississippi. The District of Columbia is a distant outlier with $188,788 per person.

As the accompanying map shows, regions seeing the greatest improvement in GDP per capita were states in the Far West, the eastern Great Lakes, the northern Appalachian mountains, and the individual states of Georgia and Rhode Island.  Growth was slowest in Mid-Atlantic states, the Great Plains, the lower Mississippi and northern Rockies.

Change in state population growth appears to impact GDP growth on the high end of the growth table, but less so for the bottom. For the 10 fastest growing states, those with a population growth rate over 1.5 percent, the change in GDP ranged from 3.8 percent to 5.5 percent. All four of the top GDP states are among the fastest growing in population as well.

Meanwhile, among the 10 states with population estimates that remained constant or decreased during 2016, GDP growth ranged from 1.2 percent to 3.0 percent for nine. Only Wyoming saw a decrease in both population and GDP.

New Hampshire, Ohio and Rhode Island experienced negligible population growth of 0.1 - 0.2 percent, yet saw their GDP growth among the top half of the table, leading to their high per capital ranking.

BEA reports the mining sector grew 5.2 percent in the final quarter of 2016 after five consecutive quarters of decline. Mining was the largest contributor of growth to North Dakota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

In related industrial sector news, retail trade grew 5.7 percent in the final quarter, contributing to growth in every state, the BEA estimates. How that reconciles with the mass layoffs and bankruptcies of larger retailers in the first quarter of 2017 remains to be determined.

State data for population and GDP for 2015 and 2016 are available to download (xlsx).

useful stats