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Which US cities have highest GDP vs which are growing fastest?

The United States has the largest GDP in the world in nominal terms, and urban areas are a major contributor to the country’s economic might. In fact, metropolitan areas account for roughly 90% of U.S. economic output.

In this visual we’ve ranked the economic output of the top 15 U.S. cities from New York City to Minneapolis, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data covers 2021, which is the most recent release from BEA.

It’s important to note that the data considers entire surrounding metropolitan areas, so as an example, New York City includes neighboring population centers such as Newark, NJ, as well as Jersey City⁠—reaching a GDP of nearly $2 trillion.

Measuring a city’s economy at the metro level can provide a more accurate representation of its economic activity. This is because the metropolitan areas include not only the central city but also the surrounding suburban and rural areas that are economically connected to it.

America’s Economic Hubs

There are some obvious winners when it comes to the largest U.S. cities by GDP, including NYC, Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Francisco.

In the table below, we’ve listed each of the 384 metropolitan areas out of the dataset all the way down to last place, Sebring-Avon Park, Florida, alongside respective ranks and GDP:

As the graphic above makes obvious, NYC’s GDP towers over the rest. The Big Apple is the nerve center for a number of high-impact industries, including finance and media.

Moving down the ranking, LA has a $1.1 trillion economy, followed by Chicago, with a GDP of just over $760 billion.

The Fastest Growing Cities

Although many of the top ranking cities are not surprising, there are a number of up-and-coming cities in the list. A report from the Kenan Institute, at the University of North Carolina’s Business School, reveals the fastest growing cities in the U.S. in terms of GDP growth year-over-year. Here’s a look at the top 10:

San Francisco, Seattle, and Dallas appear on both the overall GDP size and growth lists. Dallas’ economy is driven in large part by a growing healthcare industry. The city also continues to attract talent being home to large companies AT&T, CBRE Group, and Texas Instruments.

North Carolina is home to two of the fastest growing metropolitan areas, Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. These cities may be ones to watch as they are becoming hubs of tech, research, and manufacturing. In fact, North Carolina was recently ranked as the most attractive U.S. state to do business in and both cities are among the fastest growing in terms of population.

The economic center of gravity within the U.S. could be shifting away from the traditional centers of power towards booming cities in the South and West of the United States. The Kenan Institute found that the recovery of hospitality and leisure sectors has helped destinations in these regions like New Orleans and Orlando. Additionally, the shift towards high-tech industry jobs, remote work, and cheaper housing have made these cities very attractive.

Of course, the sunny climate in these cities is an attractive selling point as well.

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