Connecting state and local government leaders
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released sector-specific, quarterly GDP figures for states.
This is the next installment in Stats Shot, a semi-regular series of posts looking at the statistics that shape state, county and municipal governments and the communities they serve across the United States.
There were states where gross domestic product growth was running hot last year, like North Dakota, and there were those where it was looking sluggish, such as Mississippi.
Data the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released back in June showed both. But last week, the bureau added a layer of richness to those economic figures, publishing quarterly, industry-specific gross domestic product data for each state.
Want some insight into how the finance and insurance industry fared in Georgia since 2005, or how the construction sector performed in Florida last year? This data package has all of that and more.
Of course things have changed in the U.S. economy since the end of 2014.
Take North Dakota, which had the highest upward percent change in GDP of any state last year.
A hydraulic fracking boom in the Bakken oil fields fueled growth in North Dakota's economy in recent years. But, during 2015, the state's energy industry decelerated as oil prices slumped.
Despite changes like this, the new BEA figures still offer a window into some of what's underneath recent economic peaks and troughs in U.S. states, and also show how some state economies have fundamentally changed over the last decade.
A closely watched economic statistic, GDP measures the value of goods and services produced in an economy during a given time period. According to BEA it "is calculated as the sum of what consumers, businesses, and government spend on final goods and services, plus investment and net foreign trade."
In the chart below are seasonally adjusted 2014 annual, and quarterly, GDP percent change figures for each state and the District of Columbia. These numbers show the places where GDP grew, shrank, or stayed more or less static last year. By comparison, overall U.S. GDP growth in 2014 was 2.2 percent, according to an estimate BEA released in March.
What do the new industry-specific data reveal about some of the states that checked in at the top and bottom of this list?
Let's take a quick look, starting at the top, with the Peace Garden State—North Dakota.
But first, a few quick notes on the numbers.
The amounts in the following charts are in "chained" and seasonally adjusted 2009 dollars.
As for the light blue lines, these represent all of the other industries included in the BEA figures that are not named in the charts. The charts attempt to highlight sectors that experienced the biggest changes, or provided the most sizable contributions to each state's economy during the last decade.
Finally, BEA explains that the GDP figures for each industry include "the wages and salaries that workers earn, the income earned by individual or joint entrepreneurs as well as by corporations, and business taxes such as sales, property, and Federal excise taxes—that count as a business expense."
So here's how that looks in North Dakota.
The steep increase in the state's oil production is captured in the red line in the above chart, which represents mining. Tracking upwards along with it was real estate and, to a lesser extent, the trade of wholesale goods. Government is a big part of the state economy but has remained relatively flat since 2010. Meanwhile, the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting sector saw declines beginning in early 2013, and late last year was near a 10-year low point.
What about Texas? Since the 2008 economic downturn, The Lone Star State has seen increases in the manufacturing sector. Mining industries, which again, include oil and gas extraction, began moving upwards in 2011. Real estate has also climbed steadily in recent years.
As with North Dakota, this year's sputtering oil market has implications for Texas going forward.
Robert A. Dye, chief economist at Comerica Bank, pointed out in an analysis of the state's economic activity released in late August that "the energy sector is a major component of the Texas economy, but oil is not the whole story." Dye noted that "the state economy has shown resiliency in the early days of the dramatic collapse of oil prices," but also cautioned that oil prices below $40 per barrel will "undoubtedly increase the stress on the Texas energy sector, and the whole state economy."
The energy industry is also central to the economic story in Alaska, the state that performed poorest last year in terms of GDP growth. Alaska's GDP actually shrank by 1.3 percent in 2014.
The oil and gas sector, which is captured in the red mining line on the chart, has long been the dominant force in Alaska's economy. But by the end of 2014, GDP figures for the industry had sunk about 22 percent compared to levels in late 2012.
Crude oil production in Alaska has declined drastically since the early 1990s, down from 1.8 million barrels per day in 1991 to about 500,000 barrels per day in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It is expected to continue declining through 2040.
Perhaps also of note, is the orange line toward the bottom of the chart. It shows GDP measurements for Alaska's healthcare and social assistance sector, which increased moderately but steadily between 2007 and 2014.
Lastly, here is a look at the trends for various sectors in Mississippi, another state that saw a negative percent change in its GDP last year, which measured -1.2 percent.
The Magnolia State's construction sector saw declines in 2014 compared to 2013, and it is still lagging compared to the years leading up to the Great Recession. And manufacturing, especially of nondurable goods, which include items like clothing and food, fell between 2012 and 2013 and did not fully recover last year.
When the initial state GDP figures were released in June, Mississippi's House Democratic Leader, Bobby Moak, suggested to The Clarion-Ledger that providing more education funding, expanding Medicaid and developing a maintenance program for the state's roads and bridges, were ways to help the state's economy.
"These are real numbers," he told the newspaper. "We've been talking about the need to create jobs. That would increase your economic output."
If you're interested in digging into the numbers for your own state, they can be found here.
Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty.