American counties with the best and worst economic growth

GDP increased in 2,375 counties last year, while it shrank in just 717 counties

In 2018, the U.S. economy expanded by the fastest pace in more than a decade, powered by growth in more than three-fourths of American counties.

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Across the U.S., GDP increased in 2,375 counties last year, while it shrank in just 717 counties, according to new figures published on Wednesday by the Department of Labor. It ranged from massive growth in Jackson County, West Virginia -- at a staggering 86.5 percent -- to Grant County, North Dakota, which shrank by 44 percent.

GDP, the value of goods and services produced within a certain area, ranged considerably across counties. For instance, the total level of GDP hit just $18.4 million in Issaquena County, Mississippi to $710.9 billion in Los Angeles County (up 3.2 percent).

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Last year, GDP increased at a 2.9 percent annualized rate, in line with the country’s growth in 2015, which was the fastest pace since 2005.

Large counties charged the economy last year, with just five contracting. Santa Clara County, California was the fastest-growing large county -- populations greater than 500,000 -- at 10.2 percent, boosted by its information industry. On the other end, Kern County, also in California, saw the worst economic performance among large counties. Because of losses in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industry, its economy shrank by 0.7 percent.

The most losses occurred in small counties, which have populations under 100,000. Across the 2,508 small counties in the U.S., about one-quarter saw their economies contract in 2018.

By percentage, small counties had both the best and worst percentage changes in GDP. Grant County, North Dakota shrank by 44 percent, a result of losses in the area’s agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry. On the other side, Jackson County, West Virginia expanded by 86.5 percent, led by the construction industry.

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Of course, because the counties are smaller, the level of real GDP is significantly smaller compared to other counties. It ranged from $18.4 million in Issaquena County, Mississippi to $13.3 billion in Karnes County, Texas -- one of the top crude producers in the state.

Take a look at the other counties that saw the biggest increases -- and decreases -- in GDP, based on percentage changes.

BEST:

1 Jackson County, West Virginia: 86.5

2. Harlan County, Nebraska: 71.2

3. Banner County, Nebraska: 64.5

4. Arthur County, Nebraska: 61.9

5. Chouteau County, Montana: 60.9

WORST:

5. Adams County, Ohio: -35.0

4. Castro County, Texas: -37.8

3. Rock County, Nebraska: -42

2. Blaine County, Nebraska: -43.1

1. Grant County, North Dakota: -44

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