Special Report

Fastest Shrinking Local Economies in Every State

Over the nearly 10 years since the end of the Great Recession, economic news has been largely positive. Economic growth is heavily influenced by job growth, and the U.S. economy has added jobs for the last 100 consecutive months. The unemployment rate, too, has declined to levels not seen since the 1960s.

A rising tide does not necessarily raise all ships, however. While nationwide economic growth should come as welcome news to every American, many are not benefitting at the local level. In every state, there are counties that have reported slower economic growth or even shrinking GDPs.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed GDP growth from 2012 to 2015 by county and county equivalents to identify the fastest shrinking local economy in every state. Massachusetts and Hawaii are the only states in which no county reported falling GDP over that period — but even in those states, there are counties that reported slower growth than the comparable 7.3% national three-year increase. Meanwhile, states like North Dakota and Nebraska have counties that reported a more than 50% GDP decline.

Economic growth is most commonly driven by increased worker productivity or a growing population — or some combination of the two. In many of the counties on this list, a shrinking population undermined GDP growth as the majority of these counties had smaller populations in 2015 than they did in 2012.

A shrinking local economy can have real implications for area residents. In 18 of the counties on this list, median household income fell between 2012 and 2015.


To identify the fastest shrinking local economy in every state, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the change in real GDP from 2012 to 2015 with data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. We used Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for the same period to identify the fastest shrinking industry in each county. Annual unemployment rates also came from the BLS. Population data, including that used to calculate population changes, are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Click here to see the fastest shrinking local economies in every state.

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