States with the Fastest Growing Economies

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.5% in 2012 after growing 1.6% in 2011, the most the economy has grown since 2006. Nationally, manufacturing, trade and the finance and insurance industry made some of the biggest contributions to growth.

While the national economy grew, some of the country’s largest state economies, including California and Texas, increased at an even faster rate. In Texas, population growth and energy production helped boost the state’s overall GDP rate of 4.8%. The oil boom also contributed to the impressive 13.4% economic growth in North Dakota. Based on GDP growth figures provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), these are the 10 fastest growing states for 2012.

Click here to see the states growing the fastest

Some of the biggest economic growth on a state level came from the booming energy industry. In North Dakota, the mining industry — which includes natural gas and oil extraction — contributed 3.3 percentage points to growth in the state’s GDP. The biggest growth of any state in the country came in that sector. Other states also saw significant growth due to their energy industries. West Virginia’s natural gas extraction contributed the second highest state GDP growth from the energy and mining sector, at 2.44 percentage points.

Durable goods manufacturing, which includes auto manufacturing and computer parts and other similar products manufacturing, was another important growth sector for many of these states. In Indiana, it was more than half of GDP growth. In Oregon, close to 3 percentage points came from durable goods manufacturing in computer parts and other similar products.

Auto manufacturing recently has seen a major resurgence in some states. In Tennessee, about a third of the increase in GDP came from growth in durable goods manufacturing, which includes the state’s growing auto industry. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), noted that considering carmakers were bailed out by the government, “Auto manufacturing is actually a success story, especially if you think about where they were a few years ago.”

Many states with the most economic growth have made progress in other sectors. California, which has been one of the most depressed economies in the country for years, may have seen growth in its telecom, tech, financial markets and banks, according to Bernstein. Meanwhile, Washington and Oregon GDPs grew as a result of exports.

GDP growth often goes hand in hand with population growth. North Dakota, Texas and Utah — all top states for GDP growth in 2012 — were among the five largest for population growth that year. In some cases, explained Bernstein, population growth is the result of immigration. “You’re going to find border states with heavy immigrant presence generating faster population growth.” This was the case in states like Texas.

In states like North Dakota, population growth was in due to the increase in available jobs attracting workers to the area. North Dakota, which had the largest proportional increase in jobs last year because of its booming oil sector, also had the biggest increase in population. “North Dakota’s not an immigration story, it’s an energy story,” Bernstein added.

Based on figures published by the BEA, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the fastest growing economies. The BEA’s state growth figures and the industries’ contributions to growth are measured by real gross domestic product. GDP figures published by the BEA for 2012 are preliminary and are subject to annual revision. Real GDP figures for past years already have been revised — substantially in some cases. Population figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau and reflect growth between the July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012, estimates for each state. Employment and unemployment statistics are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment group.

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