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Find stories in the new state-by-state GDP numbers

This map from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis details the percent change in real GDP by state from 2009-2010.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis quietly released a little treasure trove of data on Tuesday: Gross Domestic Product by State.  It’s worth a little story on its own and definitely something you’ll want to bookmark for reference and adding context to future stories.

Here’s the initial press release which includes an interactive map; the exciting thing is that unlike some federal reports, this one has figures through 2010, so a good measure of post-recession activity can be gleaned.  This map shows GDP change by state from 2009 to 2010; you can see at a glance which states and regions fared better than others and how your state stacked up against neighbors.  There’s also a regional breakdown.

According to the release, real GDP increased in 48 of 50 states (sorry, Nevada and Wyoming) fueled in large part by durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, finance and insurance.   (See my recent blog post about the resurgence in manufacturing jobs for related story tips.)

The nice thing about this latest set of figures is that it breaks down the growth by industry; click on the link to Tables 1-3 that’s embedded in the release and you’ll pull up an Excel chart showing percent change by state and the contributions by individual industries ranging from agriculture to construction to retail to transportation to utilities, health care, arts, food service and beyond.   The numbers are an excellent conversation starter for interviews with analysts, economists and business leaders in your region; do they agree or disagree with what local business persons perceive?

You could use that chart to produce a multi-media chart, map or graphic showing the BEA’s analysis of the contribution of each industry to your state’s GDP.   Get with your CAR staffer and perhaps compile a more sophisticated melding of productivity data, job turnover data and other federal figures  that will show how much these expanding industries are contributing to job growth in your region.  And of course, talk with companies themselves.

Real per capita GDP is an interesting if abstract figure; it really doesn’t represent individual effort or income but it’s still an eye-catching statistic.  Alaska at $63,424 tops the nation at 49 percent above average;  Mississippi lags at $29,345.

Remember, too, that the BEA compiles local metro area GDP; the numbers will be older but still can provide interesting context if you’re writing about the ebb and flow of the economy in your state’s major economic centers.  You can also use that metro area data (the BEA analysts are great about walking you through the database to find the exact cities you seek) to do interesting comparisons with cities in nearby states.  Last year, for example, a client asked me to compare the economies of the Big 10 college towns.  I used GDP data as a baseline to show how some powerhouses like Ann Arbor and East Lansing were waning, while cities like Madison, Wisc. and Columbus, Ohio were using interesting tactics to attract and retain business.

In Beats, Economy, Featured, Story ideas.

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