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Economy in Brief

State GDP in 2020:Q4
by Charles Steindel  March 26, 2021

Every state is reported to have had positive growth in real GDP in the fourth quarter, but there was a wide range of growth. South Dakota led, with a 9.9 percent rate, while DC trailed all 50 states with a 1.2 percent rate of gain (Michigan's 1.7 percent was the lowest among the states).

Grain-growing farm states did quite well, with strong growth contributions from agriculture. Given the niceties of allocating farm output by quarters, it's possible that some of the strong quarterly growth rates in states such as South Dakota will be smoothed away in next summer's revisions. Revivified fossil fuel extractions also helped numbers of states where such activity is important. An odd sector was finance. Output was up in every state, but there were a number of unusual strong upside outliers, including Connecticut, Delaware, and Nebraska (New York did well, but not as well as those). Government output—essentially, government employment—varied markedly, ranging from a 1.1 percentage point drag on New Hampshire's growth rate to a .8 percentage point boost to New York (a rare case of extremes being pretty much as one might expect).

All states saw real output for 2020 as a whole drop relative to their 2019 average. Utah was almost unscathed, with a .1 percent decline, while Hawaii—a small state highly sensitive to travel—plunged a full 8 percent. On a national scale, New York's 5.9 percent drop was the most significant; losses in California, Texas, and Florida were noticeably smaller.

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