States With the Fastest (and Slowest) Growing Economies

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6. Oregon
> GDP growth:
3.6%
> 2014 GDP: $203.8 billion (25th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.1%(12th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.9% (8th highest)

Oregon’s economy grew by 3.6% last year, faster than in all but five other states. Growth was driven primarily by the durable goods sector, which contributed 1.34 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the highest such contribution nationwide. Oregon’s durable goods manufacturing, which is largely composed of advanced technology producers such as Tektronix and Intel, generated $52.9 billion, the fifth largest manufacturing output of all states. The management of companies and enterprises sector contributed another 0.42 percentage points to growth, the fourth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite the fast economic growth, Oregon’s annual unemployment rate was 6.9%, higher than the national rate of 6.2%. Similarly, the state’s housing market is not especially strong. Housing starts shrank by 3.4% in 2013.

7. Utah
> GDP growth:
3.1%
> 2014 GDP: $128.2 billion (19th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.4%(7th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 3.8% (4th lowest)

Utah’s economy expanded by 3.1%, the seventh highest growth rate in the country. The largest part of the state’s growth was generated by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.52 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The nondurable goods sector also had an impact, contributing 0.42 percentage points to growth, the eighth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Utah’s unemployment rate was 3.8% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Utah’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew by 6.1% in the last five years. The housing market is another indication that Utah’s economy is doing well. From 2013 to 2014, new building permits grew 1.5% in the country, and housing prices rose by 4.6%, both among of the highest increases across the country.

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8. Washington
> GDP growth:
3.0%
> 2014 GDP: $390.5 billion (14th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.3%(10th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.2% (22nd highest)

Washington’s economy grew by 3.0%, the eighth highest growth rate in the country. Growth was driven primarily by the retail trade sector, which contributed 0.62 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, a larger contribution from that sector than in any other state. The information sector contributed another 0.58 percentage points to growth, also the highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Washington’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew 4.7% in the five years through 2014, the eighth largest population growth rate nationwide. Washington’s unemployment rate was 6.2% in 2014, in line with the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Washington residents were also relatively well educated. Nearly 33% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the 11th highest rate in the country. An educated populace often helps promote economic growth.

9. California
> GDP growth:
2.8%
> 2014 GDP: $2.1 trillion (the largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0%(14th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.5% (4th highest)

California’s economy grew by 2.8% in 2014, tied with Oklahoma for the ninth fastest growth rate in the country. The economic growth in California was driven primarily by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.54 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the largest contribution from that sector nationwide. The sector was also the largest contributor to the national GDP growth rate. Rising housing prices are another indication that California’s economy is doing well. In 2014, the price of a home rose by an average of 7.8%, one of the largest growths nationwide. GDP growth does not fully capture the economic health of an area, and in California it may suggest the economy is healthier than it is. In 2013, the state’s poverty rate of 16.8% was higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%.

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10. Oklahoma
> GDP growth:
2.8%
> 2014 GDP: $162.4 billion (22nd largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.6%(23rd largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.5% (12th lowest)

Growth in Oklahoma was driven primarily by the mining sector, which is composed also of energy production. With the state producing 2,305 trillion BTUs of natural gas, the fourth highest level in the country, the sector contributed 1.45 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The utilities sector contributed another 0.57 percentage points to growth, the second highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was 4.5% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

Economic and social benefits may arise from the relatively strong GDP growth. As of 2013, however, Median household income was $45,690, lower than the median household income of $52,250 across the country. The state’s poverty rate was 16.8%, higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Of the state’s adults, 86.7% had at least a high school diploma, the 18th lowest rate in the country. Additionally, 23.8% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the ninth lowest rate in the country.