Special Report

Cities With the Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) Economies

3. Odessa, TX
> 2015 GDP growth: -7.3%
> 2015 GDP: $8.71 billion
> Largest GDP detraction: Trade

After near nation-leading GDP growth rates in each of the four years through 2014, Odessa’s economy tanked last year. The 7.3% contraction trails just two other metro areas as the fastest shrinking economies in the nation.

Odessa’s troubles reflects the woes afflicting mining operations across the United States. With close to 15% of area workers employed in mining and related industries, Odessa’s economy rises and falls with the price of oil. While crude oil prices have recovered somewhat so far this year, they fell consistently in 2015 and are still well below the high prices that contributed to the rapid energy sector growth in previous years. In the first quarter of this year, economic output from the U.S. mining sector declined 11.1%.

2. Houma-Thibodaux, LA
> 2015 GDP growth: -7.8%
> 2015 GDP: $10.52 billion
> Largest GDP detraction: Transportation and utilities

Houma-Thibodaux metro area’s GDP declined by 7.8% in 2015, the second largest contraction of any metro area in the country. Like the country as a whole, a sluggish transportation and utilities industry was the largest detractor from Houma-Thibodaux’s GDP growth. Relative to its size, Houma-Thibodaux has one of the largest transportation and utilities industries in the country, which has likely been negatively affected by the decline in oil prices nationwide.

Lower employment is also a likely closely tied to Houma-Thibodaux’s economic decline. As the workforce shrinks, the productive capacity of the metro area economy decreases. Employment in the metro area fell by roughly 6,000 workers in 2015. The 6.5% drop was among the largest of any metro area.

Bloomington, Illlinois
Source: Thinkstock

1. Bloomington, IL
> 2015 GDP growth: -8.0%
> 2015 GDP: $9.37 billion
> Largest GDP detraction: Professional and business services

The Bloomington economy declined by 8.0% in 2015, a larger contraction than any other U.S. metro area. The professional and business services sector accounted for nearly all of the economic contraction in the metro area, shrinking by $945 million. According to credit ratings services firm Moody’s, the professional and business services industry in Illinois is heavily tied to manufacturing and may be losing ground as a result of a sluggish manufacturing industry nationwide. In Bloomington, the manufacturing industry shrank by approximately $20 million in 2015.

Despite reduced economic output, Bloomington residents are still relatively wealthy. The median household income increased from $57,594 in 2014 to $63,842 in 2015, one of the largest increases of any metro area.

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