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January 12, 2016 – Route Fifty, Bill Lucia

A new report from the National Association of Counties looks at GDP and other economic indicators in 3,069 counties.

Despite signs that county economies are improving around the United States, economic output in about one-third of them declined last year, according to a report issued on Tuesday.

Published by the National Association of Counties, the report assesses economic performance in the nation’s 3,069 counties by looking at changes in four indicators. These indicators include: the number of jobs, unemployment rates, economic output and median home prices.

While county economies have bounced back to some extent from the doldrums of the Great Recession, the report indicates that gains have been uneven across each of the four metrics, and have also varied based on each county’s size and location.

“In 2015, we have seen accelerated recovery across the 3,069 county economies, but not on economic output,” said NACo’s research director, Emilia Istrate, in a video the organization posted online Tuesday. She also noted: “Sixteen percent—one, six—of county economies have not recovered on any of the economic indicators that we analyzed.”

"The large variation in the recovery, and growth across county economies, explain why everyday Americans don't feel the good national economic numbers," Istrate added.

Economic output is examined in terms of gross domestic product, or GDP, which measures the total value of goods and services produced by a county economy. Declines took place last year in 36 percent of county economies, according to the report. These declines were mostly concentrated in smaller counties located in southern and midwestern states.

Ten percent of the counties that experienced declines have economies that depend heavily on the oil and gas industry, which has been hard-hit over the last year by plummeting oil prices.

Economic Output (GDP) Growth Rates, 2014-2015
(Courtesy National Association of Counties)

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.