Data Love: County-Level Gross Domestic Product

How big is our economy? Is it growing? What industries really are important economically here?

These questions have long been a challenge to answer at the county level. Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is a-well recognized indicator for the national economy, and data for major metropolitan regions has been available. But what if you’re a county?

My new Data Love is the GDP by county now published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Data only run through 2015, but the BEA plans to add to the series.

We are always following national numbers – GDP, unemployment, labor force participation – but it is a challenge to translate the national trends into meaningful intelligence for the communities we work with. GDP estimates the value of the goods and services produced in an economy not only lets you see growth or contraction over time, but lets you compare different regions to each other. GDP also breaks down each industry’s contribution to the local economy, which can be a powerful tool to help communities evaluate industries to target for growth.

We can now analyze county-level economic output with the same accuracy as national data. What's not to love? 

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