COVID Impact on State and County Real GDP
New economic data shows wide variation in economic impact of COVID on NYS counties.
NYSAC Director of Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs
This week the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released county real GDP data for the entire country for 2020. New York State was the epicenter of the pandemic for the first half of 2020 and the impact of economic restrictions to slow the spread of the virus is evident in the economic data. The nation experienced a decline of 3.4 percent in real GDP for 2020. New York State's GDP impact for 2020 was -5.0 percent, the 8th highest in the nation. The median decline in real GDP for states was 3.0 percent, with a range of +.1 percent (only two states were positive) to -10.8 percent.
The NYS County Impact
- Real GDP increased in three (4.8%) counties and declined in 59
- The fastest growing county was Orleans (2.8%) led by professional and business services sector and the agricultural, forestry and fishery sector
- The largest decline was Queens (-11.2%) with the transportation and warehousing sector the leading contributor to the decline followed by the arts, recreation and accommodation sector
- The GDP change ranged from +2.8% to -11.2%.
In general, across most New York counties GDP growth usually stemmed from the information; finance and insurance; utilities; and manufacturing sectors but this did vary by county. In most cases, but not universally, just about everything else was a drag on GDP with construction; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and warehousing; real estate; educational services, healthcare, social services; arts, entertainment, accommodation and food services; and government contributing to declines.
The National County Impact
According to BEA, real GDP increased in 864 counties (27.8%) and decreased in 2,234, with 14 unchanged. Other highlights include:
Large Counties (141 counties with populations greater than 500,000 in 2020)
- Real GDP increased in 9 (6.8%) and decreased in 132
- The fastest growing large county (4.4%) was Santa Clara, CA driven by the information technology sector
- The largest decline (-11.2%) was Queens, NY, with the transportation and warehousing sector the leading contributor to the decline followed by the arts, recreation and accommodation sector
Medium Counties (467 counties with populations between 100,000 and 500,000 in 2020)
- Real GDP increased in 50 counties (10.7%) and decreased in 415, two were unchanged
- The fastest growing medium county was Guadalupe County, TX (5.9%) led by growth in durable-goods manufacturing
- Clayton County, GA (-24.3%) had the largest decrease among medium size counties with transportation and warehousing sector the leading contributor to the decline
Small Counties (2,504 counties with populations less than 100,000)
- Real GDP increased in 805 counties (32%) and decreased in 1,687, 12 were unchanged
- Foard County, TX (91%) was the fastest growing led by the utilities sector
- Skagway, AK (-29%) had the largest percent decrease with arts, entertainment and recreation contributing the most to the decrease.