States in West and Southeast Among Those With Biggest GDP Growth in Early 2016

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Arkansas, Oregon and Washington state checked in with top economic gains in the first quarter of the year, at 3.9 percent, new data show.

States in the western and southern United States had some of the stronger economic gains seen nationally during the first three months of the year, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates released Wednesday.

Of the 20 states that saw the highest levels of inflation-adjusted gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of 2016, seven were located in the far west, Rocky Mountain region or Southwest, and another seven were located in the Southeast.

For the entire U.S., gross domestic product, a broad measurement of the value of goods and services produced in a place, ticked upwards at a less-than-stellar pace of 1.2 percent during the first quarter of the year.

Twenty seven states and the District of Columbia had first quarter growth rates that outpaced that national benchmark, the newly released figures show.

Regionally, the far west (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) had the highest level of growth in the first quarter at 2.2 percent. At the other end of the spectrum was the plains region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), where GDP decreased by 0.8 percent.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

All told, 36 states and the District of Columbia experienced some degree of economic growth during the first quarter of the year. These increases spanned up to 3.9 percent in Arkansas, Oregon and Washington, from 0.2 percent in Minnesota.

Nevada exhibited zero GDP growth, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates. Another 13 states had declines, ranging from -0.2 percent in Idaho to -11.4 percent in North Dakota.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Annual figures released last month showed that North Dakota and Alaska were the only two states where inflation-adjusted GDP declined between 2014 and 2015. Both states have economies intertwined with the oil and gas sector, which has been pummeled by low prices.

Standard & Poor's Global Ratings on Tuesday issued a report indicating that the fiscal outlook for state and local governments in the U.S. is looking somewhat dimmer.

Citing slow GDP growth, along with uncertainty tied to the Brexit, whereby British voters opted to leave the European Union, the authors of the report raised their estimated risk of a recession in the next 12 months to between 20 and 25 percent, from 15 to 20 percent.

But the report also notes that fiscal conditions vary widely across states, that the U.S. housing market is strengthening, and that an increase in consumer spending, which the authors anticipate, could boost state and local sales tax collections in the coming months.

Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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