The States With The Fastest Growing Economies

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11) Washington
> GDP growth: 2%
> Real 2011 GDP: $304.953 billion (14th highest)
> Population change: +1.29% (5 highest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 1.2% (tied-11th highest)

With a GDP growth rate of 2%, Washington is tied for eighth with four other states as the fastest growing state economy in the U.S. in 2011. The durable goods manufacturing industry expanded significantly, contributing to nearly half of the state’s total GDP growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing industry added about 11,000 jobs in 2011. That growth, a 4.3% increase, represents the sixth-largest proportional increase in the manufacturing sector in the U.S. Washington’s information sector’s growth came “from household names such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Real Networks, to emerging companies in the transformative areas of cloud computing virtualization and energy efficiency,” according to the Washington State Department of Commerce. Washington also had the fifth highest percent increase in population between 2010 and 2011 at 1.29%.

10) California
> GDP growth: 2%
> Real 2011 GDP: $1.735360 trillion (The highest)
> Population change: +0.95% (11th highest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 0.9% (tied-21st lowest)

With a population of 37.7 million, California has one of the largest economies — not only in the U.S., but the world. The Golden State’s GDP represents 13.2% of national economic production. Because of its size, the state’s 2% GDP increase was worth $33 billion — the second-largest growth in dollar terms in the U.S. after Texas. The state’s growth last year can be credited to expansion in the manufacturing, information, and the professional, scientific, and technical service sectors. The state’s durable manufacturing sector, which includes the computer and innovation technology-producing Silicon Valley, contributed to more than $10 billion of the increase, nearly a third of the total growth.

9) Connecticut
> GDP growth: 2%
> Real 2011 GDP: $201.386 billion (24th highest)
> Population change: +0.15% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 1.0% (tied-21st highest)

Relative to its labor force, Connecticut has the second-largest finance sector in the country after Delaware. That sector was also the largest cause of the state’s economic expansion, contributing 30% to the state’s total GDP growth. The state has been increasing its banking, financial services, and insurance job openings steadily throughout 2011. The professional, scientific, and technical services sectors also grew.

8) Utah
> GDP growth: 2%
> Real 2011 GDP: $108.329 billion (17th lowest)
> Population change: +1.5% (2nd highest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 2.2% (2nd highest)

Utah had the second-fastest growing population in the country and an above-average GDP growth, as the state has continued to flourish despite the recession. Much like the country as a whole, durable goods manufacturing, information, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector were major contributors to growth. However, several other sectors had an impact on economic growth, which speaks to the state having a healthy and well-rounded economy. From 2010 to 2011, the unemployment rate in the state fell from 8% to 6.7%, well below the national averages for both years.

7) Massachusetts
> GDP growth: 2.2%
> Real 2011 GDP: $348.577 billion (12th highest)
> Population change: +0.49% (20th lowest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 0.6% (tied-14th lowest)

Massachusetts’ above-average GDP growth rate of 2.2% is actually below its 2009-2010 growth rate of 4.4%. Still, there were meaningful improvements in several industries last year, notably the professional, scientific, and technical services at almost 27%. The durable goods manufacturing sector, which comprised almost 24% of growth, also had an impact on Massachusetts’ increased gross domestic productivity.

6) Michigan
> GDP growth: 2.3%
> Real 2011 GDP: $337.427 billion (13th highest)
> Population change: -0.01% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. increase in employment: 1.9% (4th highest)

Michigan added 72,300 jobs in 2011, a 1.9% increase from the previous year. This labor increase, one of the healthiest in the country, came primarily from the services and manufacturing sectors, which added more than 30,000 new employees each. This may be due in part to the fact that GM and Chrysler exited Chapter 11 last year. Unemployment in general improved in the state from 12.7%, the second-highest rate in the country, to 10.3%, the seventh-highest. Overall, Michigan GDP increased by 2.3%, or $7.4 billion. Durable goods manufacturing accounted for just over 50% of this growth.