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(Note: The map above and post and table below have been slightly updated to reflect new, more complete, and revised state GDP data for 2015 that were released today by the BEA. The previous post was based on preliminary data through the third quarter of last year.)
The map above (click to enlarge) was created (with assistance from AEI’s graphic design director Olivier Ballou) by matching the economic output (GDP) in each US state (and the District of Columbia) in 2015 to foreign countries with comparable nominal GDP last year, using data from the BEA for GDP by US state and data for GDP by country from the International Monetary Fund. For each US state (and the District of Columbia), I identified the country closest in economic size in 2015 (measured by nominal GDP), and for each state there was a country with a pretty close match – those countries are displayed in the map above and in the table below. Obviously, in some cases the closest match was a country that produced slightly more, or slightly less, economic output in 2015 than a given US state.
It’s pretty amazing how ridiculously large the US economy is, and the map above helps put America’s GDP of $18 trillion in 2015 into perspective by comparing the GDP of US states to other country’s entire national GDP. For example:
1. America’s largest state economy is California, which produced $2.46 trillion of economic output in 2015, just slightly above the GDP of France during the same period of $2.42 trillion. Consider this: California has a workforce of about 19 million compared to an employment level in France of slightly more than 25 million workers. Amazingly, it required 32% (and 6 million) more workers in France to produce the same economic output last year as California! That’s a testament to the superior, world-class productivity of the American worker. Further, California as a separate country would have been the 6th largest economy in the world last year, ahead of France ($2.42 trillion) and India ($2.09 trillion) and not too far behind No. 5 UK at $2.85 trillion.
2. America’s second largest state economy – Texas – produced
$1.59 trillion of economic output in 2015, which would have ranked the Lone Star State as the world’s 10th largest economy last year. GDP in Texas was also slightly higher than Canada’s GDP last year of $1.55 trillion. However, to produce about the same amount of economic output as Texas required a workforce in Canada (18 million) that was 50% larger than employment in the state of Texas (12 million). That is, it required 6 million more workers in Canada to produce the same output as Texas last year. Another example of the world-class productivity of the American workforce.
3. Even with all of its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia’s GDP in 2015 at $653 billion was below the GDP of US states like Pennsylvania ($689 billion) and Illinois ($775 billion).
4. America’s third largest state economy – New York with a GDP in 2015 of $1.44 trillion – produced slightly more economic output last year than South Korea ($1.38 trillion). As a separate country, New York would have ranked as the world’s 11th largest economy last year, ahead of both No. 12 South Korea and No. 13 Russia ($1.32 trillion). Amazingly, it took almost three times as many workers in South Korea (26 million) to produce roughly the same amount of economic output that required only 9.2 million New York workers! More evidence of the world-class productivity of American workers.
5. Other comparisons: Florida ($883 billion) produced about the same amount of GDP in 2015 as Indonesia ($859 billion), even though Florida’s workforce of 9.3 million is only about 8% of the size of Indonesia’s workforce of 115 million employees. GDP in Illinois last year of $775 billion was just slightly higher than economic output in the Netherlands ($738 billion), even though employment in Illinois (6.2 million workers) is about 25% below the employment level in the Netherlands (8.34 million workers).
MP: Overall, the US produced 24.5% of world GDP in 2015, with only about 4.5% of the world’s population. Three of America’s states (California, Texas and New York) – as separate countries – would have ranked in the world’s top 11 largest economies last year. Together, those three US states produced $5.5 trillion in economic output last year, and as a separate country would have ranked as the world’s third largest economy and ahead of No. 3 Japan ($4.1 trillion) by almost $1.5 trillion. And one of those states – California – produced more than $2 trillion in economic output in 2015 – and the other two (Texas and New York) produced more than $1.5 trillion and $1.4 trillion of GDP in 2015 respectively. Adjusted for the size of the workforce, there might not be any country in the world that produces as much output per worker as the US, thanks to the world-class productivity of the American workforce. The map above and the statistics summarized here help remind us of the enormity of the economic powerhouse we live and work in. So let’s not lose sight of how ridiculously large and powerful the US economy is, and how much wealth, output and prosperity is being created every day in the largest economic engine ever in human history.
Note 1: Earl Fry, Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University, gets credit as the original creator of US maps with states renamed for countries with similar GDPs (international doppelgangers of US states). He has produced these maps on a regular basis since 2003.
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