Last week the St. Louis Fed updated its estimates of economic growth through the third quarter of 2017 for 68 of the U.S.’s most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Average growth across these MSAs was 2.7 percent, which is consistent with the 2.3 percent year-over-year growth in U.S. real GDP during the same period.
The data are summarized in a FRED release table called Economic Conditions Index by BEA Region (under the main category of Metro Area Economic Conditions Indexes). Growth was the fastest in the Southwest and the slowest in the Plains. Given the geographical aspects here, we can use GeoFRED to map the economic growth for these MSAs in September 2017: For example, activity declined in Detroit, Hartford, Houston, and Miami, while growth was relatively strong in San Antonio, Louisville, and San Jose.
Impact of Hurricanes on the Houston and Florida MSAs
There’s a noticeable decline in the growth rates of the MSAs affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma last fall: The graph above shows Houston’s 0.5 percent decline in August and 1.0 percent decline in September; Miami’s 1.9 percent increase in August and 0.6 percent decline in September; and Tampa’s near 4 percent increase in August and previous months and 2.4 percent increase in September.
Economic Activity in the Eighth Federal Reserve District MSAs
Overall growth among the four largest MSAs in the Eighth Federal Reserve District continued to improve at a modest pace during the third quarter of 2017, as can be seen from the graph below. Growth in Little Rock, St. Louis, and Louisville picked up, while growth in Memphis slowed a bit. Overall third-quarter growth was fastest in Louisville at 4.3 percent, followed by Little Rock at 3.3 percent, Memphis at 2.2 percent, and St. Louis at 1.9 percent.
How these graphs where created: For the map: Go to GeoFRED and click on “Build New Map.” Under “Region Type” in the Tools menu, select “Metropolitan Statistical Area”; under “Data,” select “Economic Conditions Index.” To change legend colors, select “Colors” and chose a divergent color set that uses a bold color for both high and low values. To change the ranges, select “Edit Legend” and enter the interval values 0, 2, 4, 6.
For the first graph: Go to the Releases section on FRED and select the category “Metro Area Economic Conditions Indexes.” From this page, select “Economic Conditions Index by BEA Region.” Then, by checking the box next to their names, select the Houston-The Woordlands-Sugar Land, TX (MSA) and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale- West Palm Beach, FL (MSA) and click on “Add to Graph.” Use the slide bar below the graph to zoom in on the period of interest.
For the second graph: Again, go to the release tables page on FRED. Select “Economic Conditions Index by BEA Region.” From here, select the St. Louis, MO-IL (MSA), the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR (MSA), the Memphis, TN-MS-AR (MSA), and the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN (MSA) and click on “Add to Graph”. Then adjust the dates to 2017-01-01 to 2017-09-01. From the “Edit Graph” menu, use the “Modify frequency” option to select “Quarterly” and the “Aggregation method” option to select “Average.” Repeat this step for the other three lines. From the “Format” tab, under “Graph type,” select the option “Bar.”
Suggested by Asha Bharadwaj and Charles Gascon.