It’s clear that the U.S. economy is heavily concentrated in certain locations (the Northeast, California, Chicago) and less in others (the Heartland and Mountain regions), but what is the precise distribution?
How much of the U.S. GDP comes from large cities versus rural areas? And how do the economies of each city compare with each other?
The distorted map below, known as a cartogram, is one way of approaching the question.
The GDP of every U.S. county
This map displays every county in the U.S. Each county is sized proportional to its share of the total U.S. GDP.
To add some context to these numbers, Greater New York’s GDP of $1.5 trillion is larger than all but 11 countries. If it were its own country, Greater New York’s economy would rank just above Australia and South Korea and just below Canada and Russia.
At the low end of this group, Greater Atlanta’s GDP of $325 billion is enough to rank it #36 on the list of countries, immediately below Denmark and Malaysia and above Singapore and Israel.
The shape of the UK economy
The last time I made a cartogram of the U.S., a number of people thought it would be interesting to see the same for the U.K., considering how much of its economy is concentrated in a single city, London.
So, for comparison, here is another cartogram showing how U.K.’s economy is distributed.
To see a cartogram breaking down the world economy by country, see: How We Share the World.
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- ONS: U.K. income, U.K. labor force, regional GVA
- NHGIS / U.S. Census: Aggregate U.S. income
- BEA: GDP by metro area
- Cartograms made with Scapetoad
All figures are quoted in nominal 2014 GDP.
The BEA publishes GDP for metro areas, but not for counties. To reach these estimates, I first calculated each county’s share of U.S. aggregate household income. Then I grouped the counties together by metro area, and scaled them so that the sum of each metro area matched the BEA’s figures.
I'm fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data is transforming our understanding of the world. I spend a lot of time with my face buried in Excel, and when I find something interesting I write about it here and as a contributor for the Huffington Post.
More about my background
Latest posts by Max Galka (see all)
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