Understanding America’s enormous $19.5T economy by comparing US metro area GDPs to entire countries




The table and first map above help to put America’s ridiculously large $19.5 trillion economy (Gross Domestic Product in 2017) into perspective by comparing America’s 20 largest metro area economies in 2017 (based on data released yesterday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis) to the economies of entire countries with similar Gross Domestic Products in 2017 (International Monetary Fund data here via Wikipedia). Here are some interesting facts about the size of US metro area economies:

  1. America’s largest metro economy – the New York area — produced 4% more economic output last year ($1.72 trillion of GDP) than the entire country of Canada ($1.65 trillion of GDP) and the New York City metro area as a separate country would have been the 10th largest economy in the world behind No. 9 Italy in 2017 ($1.9 trillion GDP). Interestingly, to produce approximately the same amount of economic output, requires a labor force of about 20 million in Canada (according to World Bank data here) that is roughly twice the size of NYC’s labor force of about 10 million (according to BLS data here).
  2. The LA metro area, the second largest US metro economy, produced just slightly less economic output ($1.04 trillion of GDP) in 2017 than the entire country of Mexico ($1.15 trillion of GDP) and LA would have been the 16th largest economy in the world last year as a separate country behind No. 15 Mexico. To produce roughly the same amount of GDP, the size of Mexico’s labor force (58 million) is almost seven times greater than the LA metro’s labor force of 6.7 million.
  3. Chicago’s economy is America’s third largest metro economy and in 2017 (GDP of $680 billion) was almost the same size ($680 billion in GDP) as Switzerland’s GDP of $679 billion, and it would have ranked as the 20th largest national economy in the worldlast year.
  4. America’s three largest metro areas (NYC, LA and Chicago) in 2017 together produced $3.44 trillion in GDP, which was just slightly less than the entire economic output of Germany at $3.64 trillion, and those three US metros as a separate national economy would have ranked as the fifth largest economy in the world last year. To generate about the same amount of economic output last year required a labor force in Germany (44 million) that is about twice the size of the combined labor forces of NYC, LA and Chicago (22 million).
  5. The top six largest US metro areas (NY, LA, Chicago, Dallas, DC, and San Francisco) last year produced $5.0 trillion of economic output (GDP) last year, and those six metro areas combined as a separate country would have been the third largest national economy in the world, ahead of No. 4 Japan’s $4.8 trillion GDP in 2017.
  6. It’s also interesting to note that roughly half of America’s GDP last year ($9.75 trillion) was produced in the country’s 22 largest metro areas: the 20 metros in the table above, plus St. Louis and Portland (see second map above).