Dec 16, 2019

31 counties accounted for a third of the U.S. economy last year

Los Angeles had the largest county GDP in 2018. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

32.3% of U.S. gross domestic product was concentrated in just 31 counties in 2018, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg.

Why it matters: All 31 counties included or were near major U.S. cities, signaling that the economy is concentrating in urban areas as economic output from more rural counties is dwindling.

By the numbers: The 31 counties accounted for 26.1% of employed Americans in the country and only 21.9% of the total U.S. population last year. The counties' combined share of GDP continued to rise last year even though their share of the overall population fell.

  • Los Angeles County, which has a GDP equivalent to Saudi Arabia, had the largest county GDP in 2018, adding $395.2 billion to total U.S. GDP from 2001 to 2018.
  • New York City's five counties generated 4.8% of U.S. GDP in 2018, and New York County, home to Manhattan, added $340 billion to total U.S. GDP from 2001 to 2018.

The big picture: U.S. industries are also becoming increasingly concentrated in a few counties. Nearly three-fifths of the information sector's output came from just a few dozen counties — many of which were on or near the West Coast and home to tech giants like Apple, Google and Amazon.

  • The New York City region dominated in national finance, and Los Angeles held the top spot in the arts and entertainment industry.
  • Meanwhile, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors continued to decentralize.

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Rural America set to lose political power after 2020 census

Ottawa, Illinois, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In most of the 10 states that will likely lose a House seat due to reapportionment beginning in 2022, current demographic trends are poised to shift political power from rural counties to metropolitan counties, according to an analysis by The Hill's Reid Wilson.

Why it matters: Census counts are crucial for determining political representation in the House, and minor changes in population can alter a state's power in Congress for a decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 5, 2020

Mapping credit inequality in the U.S.

Data: New York Fed; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

This map is a vivid depiction of credit inequality in the United States. The dark areas show counties where a large proportion of the population has no access to credit, while the lighter areas are considered "credit-assured" or "credit-likely."

Why it matters: Communities with good access to credit can grow faster and prove more resilient to shocks than their less creditworthy counterparts.

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019

Americans are moving less

Data: Census 2019 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Fewer than 10% of Americans moved to new places in the 2018-2019 year, the lowest rate since the Census Bureau began tracking domestic relocations in 1947.

Why it matters: Despite a strong economy, more people are feeling locked in place. Young adults, who have historically been the most mobile, are staying put these days thanks to housing and job limitations. So are aging adults who are reluctant to (or can't afford to) make a move.