• Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Useful Stats: Innovative industries across the nation

March 14, 2024
By: Conor Gowder

The real gross domestic product (GDP) of private industries has steadily increased nationwide from 2018-2022, with an average percentage increase of 2% each year, or 9% total, despite a drop from 2019-2020 due to the pandemic. However, the same cannot be said across all private industries; of the 14 broad industries captured by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data,[1] eight have grown while six decreased over the five-year period from 2018-2022.

While a prior SSTI Useful Stats article went in depth about overall state-level industry GDP profiles using BEA data, this edition of Useful Stats explores all U.S. counties, identifying trends and clustering across the nation’s private industries through a more granular lens.

The primary metric used is “Real GDP.” Real GDP is an inflation-adjusted measure of GDP– in this case chained to 2017 USD. In other words, all dollar amounts in this article are portrayed in their 2017 equivalents to allow for a more direct comparison of the values.


County private industry GDPs across the nation

In 2022, the total real GDP of all private industries across all U.S. counties was $19.3 trillion—an increase of 2% over the year prior and 9% over the past five years.

Santa Clara County increased the most of any county from 2018-2022, jumping $80 billion, or by 28%. The next largest increase occurred in King County, Washington, with a $65 billion, or 23%, increase.

See Figure 1 below for more detail on private industry GDPs for each U.S. county from 2017-2022 and Figure 2 for the 5-year percentage change in GDP values from 2018-2022. Fourteen broad industries and the private industry total can be found in both visuals.


Figure 1: U.S. county GDP for total and each private industry, 2017-2022.


Sixty-three percent of all counties grew their real GDPs across all industries, with the average overall percent change at 4%, from 2018 through 2022.

However, many of the counties with both the largest and smallest percentage changes are located in more rural areas, where populations are low, and GDPs are more susceptible to swings.

For example, the counties with the largest jumps are Foard, Texas (+160% or $55 million), Concho, Texas (+157% or $102 million), Lincoln, South Dakota (+129% or $3.4 billion), Coke, Texas (+126% or $99 million), and the Emporia-Greensville Commonwealth, Virginia (+103% or $738 million).

Conversely, those with the largest decreases are Morrill, Nebraska (-58% or $331 million), Treasure, Montana (-54% or $54 million), Slope, North Dakota (-52% or $16 million), Cameron, Louisiana (-52% or $810 million), and Jackson, West Virginia (-51% or $726 million).

While these changes in real GDP may still seem large, bear in mind the average real GDP of a U.S. county was $6.2 billion, while the median was $863 million (range of $8.4 million to $751 billion) in 2022.

In contrast, looking instead across the 500 counties with the largest real GDPs in 2022, 82% grew their private industry real GDPs while the average percentage change in real GDP from 2018-2022 was an increase of 9%.

The largest relative increases within this subset of counties were in Lincoln, South Dakota (+129% or $3.4 billion), Martin, Texas (+62% or $2.5 billion), and Guadalupe, Texas (+61% or $3.4 billion). On the other hand, the largest relative decreases were in Jefferson, Texas (-20% or $3.8 billion), Calcasieu, Louisiana (-16% or $2.2 billion), and Minnehaha, South Dakota (-16% or $2.8 billion).

While looking at overall GDP changes can tell us something about the health of a county’s economic ecosystem, further breakdown by industry can reveal the driving forces in much greater detail.

Figure 2: 5-year percentage change in real GDP by county and industry.


Industry changes in real GDP

The eight industries that grew in real gross domestic product between 2018 and 2022 were: information (+41% or $439 billion), professional and business services (+25% or $640 billion), finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing (+11% or $457 billion), educational services, health care, and social assistance (+9% or $158 billion), transportation and warehousing (+6% or $42 billion), arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (+4% or $37 billion), utilities (+3% or $9 billion), and manufacturing (+3% or $65 billion).

Professional and business services had the largest increase in real gross domestic product, with a five-year increase of $640 billion, or 25%. Information, however, had the largest relative increase at $439 billion, or 41%.

The six industries that decreased were: mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-11% or $32 billion), agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (-8% or $14 billion), construction (-4% or $36 billion), wholesale trade (-3% or $39 billion), retail trade (-3% or $39 billion), and other services (except government and government enterprises; -3% or $13 billion)

Wholesale trade decreased in real GDP by $39 billion, or -3%, the largest amount. Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction decreased $32 billion, or 11%, the largest relative amount.

While these changes are significant, it is important to explore how these changes are spread across the nation; are the changes uniform nationally, or is there a small subset of counties influencing much of the change?

Between 2018 and 2022, the professional and business services and information industries grew in 83% of the counties for which data was available—the highest percentages of any industries—with an average county-level growth of 27% and 34%, respectively. Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services had the next largest share of counties with positive real GDP growths at 70%, followed by educational services, health care, and social assistance at 67%.

Other industries, such as manufacturing and transportation and warehousing had strong average growths—17% and 7% respectively—as well as share of positive counties, with both over 50%.

Real GDP in wholesale trade had the lowest percentage of counties having increased, with just 36% of counties growing in the past five years of available data. Overall growth in this industry declined by an average of 2% across all counties with available data. At 38%, retail trade had the second-lowest percentage of counties with increases in real GDP, with a -1% average real GDP growth overall.

Just three industries averaged a negative real GDP growth across all counties. Wholesale trade and retail trade, mentioned above, and other services (except government and government enterprises) with positive growth in 39% of counties and an average decrease of 2% across counties.

Refer to Figures 1 and 2 above for more detail on the real GDPs and percent changes for all counties with available data.


This article was prepared by SSTI using Federal funds under award ED22HDQ3070129 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.


[1] The industries used in this article are:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services
  • Construction
  • Educational services, health care, and social assistance
  • Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing
  • Information
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
  • Professional and business services
  • Retail trade
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Utilities
  • Wholesale trade
  • Other services (except government and government enterprises)
useful stats, gdp, industry, county