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Using FRED maps to look at regional GDP

On December 8, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its first estimates of real GDP by county and metropolitan statistical area (MSA) for 2021. These data provide a new glimpse into how different regions across the U.S. have performed since the COVID-19-induced recession in 2020.

The map of the United States above shows MSAs (with available data) in green if they expanded and in red if they contracted between 2020 and 2021. The vast majority (95%) of MSAs experienced economic growth. The median growth rate among the MSAs was 5.1%; however, the range of growth rates may surprise you. Elkhart-Goshen, IN, grew the fastest, with a staggering 25.34% increase since 2020. Wheeling, WV-OH, contracted the most, with a decline of –6.7%.

It can be helpful to contextualize these numbers with previous years. The graphs below show the percent change for 2020—that is, the change from 2019 to 2020.

The 2020 map depicts clearly different economic conditions. A vast majority (79.3%) of MSAs had contracted in 2020. The median growth rate was –2.1%. Of the 20.7% of MSAs that expanded, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, grew the most, at 4.6%. Lake Charles, LA, contracted the most at –19.8%.

While the 2020 and 2021 data show two extremes of economic conditions, the 2019 data show a more “normal” economy. Approximately 80.7% of MSAs expanded, with a median growth rate of 1.8%. Midland, TX, grew the most, at 23.4%, similar to growth rates in 2021. Billings, MT, contracted the most at –5.3%.

Regardless of the year, it’s clear that there are large differences in economic conditions among MSAs. These differences can stem from variation in industry composition, among other factors. And this variation across the country is important to keep in mind when looking at national averages of economic data.

How these maps were created: Search FRED for “Total Real Gross Domestic Product for St. Louis, MO-IL (MSA)” or the series RGMP41180. Click on the green “View Map” button, then click on the “Edit Map” button to change the units and colors. Change units to “Percent Change from Year Ago.” Change “Number of color groups” to 2. Change “Data grouped by” to “User Defined Method.” Change the first value to 0 and the second value to 30. To change the colors, click on the color next to the less-than-or-equal sign. Finally, click “Apply Intervals.” To look at different years with the same settings, change the date in the upper right hand “Date” box.

Suggested by Charles Gascon and Cassie Marks.

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