America’s Fastest Shrinking Local Economies – 24/7 Wall St.


Gross domestic product is a measure often used to compare the size of economies as well as the performance of an economy. As the world’s largest economy, the United States’ GDP exceeds $21 trillion. But the US economy is made up of many counties. The county’s GDP can help gauge the vitality of the local economy. While the U.S. economy grew nearly 22% from 2014 to 2019, about 750 county economies (out of more than 3,000 nationwide) shrank during that time.

To determine the 50 fastest-shrinking local economies nationwide, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the change in real GDP from 2014 to 2019 for each U.S. county or its equivalent with data from the Bureau of Economics. Analysis. The counties listed here have seen the most crippling economic contractions – between 28% and 51%.

When economies contract, the availability of jobs and the potential for local economic mobility also decline. This can lead to population decline over a long period of time as younger residents leave in search of greener jobs. (American industry is dying fastest.)

Those U.S. counties whose local economies are shrinking the fastest are typically small and rural. For example, Mora County, New Mexico, and Martin County, Kentucky both have populations under 1,000. (Not counties, but these are America’s Largest and Smallest State Economies.)

The fastest-shrinking local U.S. economies also include Boone County, West Virginia, a coal-dependent community of 22,368 people that has seen a gradual decline in jobs since the Great Recession. There are about 2,200 fewer jobs in Boone than there were when it last peaked in July 2008, and it has yet to recoup jobs lost to the 2020 pandemic-related recession. Its GDP fell by almost 43% from 2014 to 2019.

With a population of 133,195, Tazewell County, Illinois is one of the most populous counties on this list. It now has about 2,300 fewer people employed than before the lockdowns linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like Boone County, Tazewell has seen a gradual reduction in the number of people employed – a trend that began during the Great Recession. Its GDP contracted by nearly half between 2014 and 2019.

Of the five most populous U.S. states, only Texas has counties on this list of fastest-shrinking local economies. Lone Star State is home to nine such counties, with approximately 88,000 residents. Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are tied for second place with four counties each.

Click here to see the fastest shrinking local economies in America
Click here to see our detailed methodology


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