America’s Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) Economies

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Fastest Shrinking Economies

9. Charlottesville, VA
> 2013 GMP change: -2.2% (tied-7th worst)
> Change in employment: -1.9% (tied-5th worst)
> Projected 2014 GMP change: 2.3% (tied-144th best)
> Unemployment rate: 4.6% (32nd lowest)

Charlottesville’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2013 after failing to grow in 2012. This year, however, may be relatively strong for the area. Employment is projected to rise by 1.4%, while GMP is expected to grow by 2.3%. While these figures aren’t strong relative to the U.S. overall, they are a step in the right direction. Despite the two consecutive years of a shrinking economy, the area’s unemployment rate of 4.6% is considerably lower than many other metro areas. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, a major employer in the area.

8. Pocatello, ID
> 2013 GMP change: -2.2% (tied-7th worst)
> 2013 change in employment: -0.3% (43rd worst)
> Projected 2014 GMP change: 1.5% (69th worst)
> Unemployment rate: 6.4% (143rd lowest)

Pocatello’s economy shrank for the second consecutive year, with GMP contracting 2.2% in 2013 after dropping 1.7% in 2012. Additionally, the area shed jobs last year even as the U.S. continued to add jobs. Pocatello has lately had to deal with the bankruptcy of solar panel component maker, Hoku Corporation. The city attracted Hoku with nearly-free land leases that ended up costing taxpayers considerable sums of money. While job growth and output are projected to pick up in 2014, the area is expected to continue to lag behind the rest of the U.S.

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7. Salisbury, MD
> 2013 GMP change: -2.2% (tied-7th worst)
> 2013 change in employment: -1.9% (tied-5th worst)
> Projected 2014 GMP change: -3.8% (2nd worst)
> Unemployment rate: 8.6% (66th lowest)

While nearly every metro area is projected to grow in 2014, Salisbury’s economy is expected to shrink by 3.8% this year, more than any other metro area except for Cumberland, Maryland. The area’s employment level, which already declined by 1.9% last year, is expected to shrink more than any other metro area this year as well. When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, the city of Salisbury declared a state of civil emergency. According to Moody’s, the area’s businesses and inhabitants have been spending and investing less than in previous years due to the storm and the delayed federal disaster aid.

6. Binghamton, NY
> 2013 GMP change: -2.3%
> 2013 change in employment: -0.4% (38th worst)
> Projected 2014 GMP change: 0.0% (tied–4th worst)
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (111th highest)

Binghamton has suffered from a large, decades-long population decline, as well as from the loss of manufacturing jobs and shrinking headcount at large industrial employers. In 2011, the city has had to contend with a major flood that damaged thousands of buildings and caused roughly $1 billion in damages to the metro area’s two counties. The area’s economy has contracted in each of the last three years, and GMP is not predicted to rise in 2014. As of 2012, Binghamton University — one of the State University of New York’s four university centers — is a major employer and contributor to the area’s economic output.