Comparing each state's GDP to countries around the world
As 2020 opens, uncertainty in trade, uncertainty in politics, and unstable business relations with countries like China and Russia weigh on economies at home and abroad. While economists, politicians, and stockbrokers fret over each decimal point of movement in an area’s gross domestic product (GDP), sometimes it’s good to keep a frame of reference in mind. To that end, Stacker compiled a list comparing every state’s GDP to countries around the world. The list was created using 2018 GDP data (released in 2019) from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the World Bank. Additional sources of info were the U.S. Census, the CIA’s World Factbook, university business databases, and newspaper and business journal articles.
We found that most states have a unique industry that inflates their GDP. In Wisconsin, it’s cheese. North Carolina has long been considered by many the “furniture capital of the world.” In line with always being known for its apples, Washington is creating new super apples to keep the market strong. Michigan, of course, is the center of America’s auto industry, but electric cars and worries over global warming keep that industry on its toes as it looks to maintain its grip.
Just because a country (or two) may have more residents than a U.S. state, this does not mean its GDP is healthy. Even tiny Rhode Island produces a higher GDP than nations with millions of more citizens. Factors like the European Union instability, Brexit, and protests in Hong Kong are hampering markets around the world. At home, environmental factors, new technology, and ever-changing laws cause the GDPs of some states to stagnate. Still, there are four states with GDPs over $1 trillion.
A common debate at the bar and on the internet regularly centers on how one state could stand on its own independently. Click through and decide how you think your home state would fair independently when compared to other countries with similar GDPs.
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- 2018 state GDP: $221.7 billion
- GDP higher than: 161 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Greece ($218 billion) plus Suriname ($3.6 billion)
Thanks to the booming tech industry in Huntsville and surrounding areas, Alabama’s GDP received a boost of $22 billion. That puts Alabama’s GDP above the total for Greece, which is slowly rebounding from high rates of unemployment, thanks to increased GDP from mining.
- 2018 state GDP: $54.7 billion
- GDP higher than: 129 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Slovenia ($54 billion) plus American Samoa ($0.6 billion)
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, plus transportation and warehousing are two key contributors to Alaska’s GDP. While Alaska had one of the lowest GDPs in 2018, it still tops the combined total of Slovenia and American Samoa. Slovenia still has one of the highest per capita GDPs in central Europe, while American Samoa has seen slight economic growth thanks to fixed private investment and export of goods.
- 2018 state GDP: $348.3 billion
- GDP higher than: 174 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Colombia ($331 billion) plus Mali ($17.2 billion)
State leaders in Arizona are promising more education spending made possible by economic growth that includes a $750 million surplus for the 2021 budget year. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing are some key reasons for Arizona’s robust GDP, which surpasses Colombia, a country that is being aided by investment and tax reforms, but is still plagued by high inequality.
- 2018 state GDP: $128.4 billion
- GDP higher than: 153 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Morocco ($117.9 billion) plus Benin ($10.4 billion)
Arkansas, the state where Wal-Mart was founded, is heavily reliant on manufacturing. Arkansas’s GDP tops Morocco’s, even though the country boasts a diverse economy made up from lively agriculture, aerospace, and phosphates industries. Benin, meanwhile, is relatively reliant on cotton.
- 2018 state GDP: $3 trillion
- GDP higher than: 208 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: United Kingdom ($2.9 trillion) plus Kuwait ($140.6 billion)
California has the country’s highest GDP. Tech industries have certainly boosted the Golden State’s economy—The Guardian recently noted how Silicon Valley alone would be one of the world’s richest countries. California barely edges out the entire GDP of the U.K., whose economy is struggling because of the Brexit mess.
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- 2018 state GDP: $371.7 billion
- GDP higher than: 180 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Israel ($370.6 billion) plus Turks and Caicos Islands ($1 billion)
Colorado is projected to have slower growth in its economy, but low unemployment rates have brightened its financial forecast. In particular, ranchers and farmers are continuing to thrive in Colorado. That’s enough for now to hold off Israel, a country that continues to have a rapidly growing economy, thanks to a bustling tech industry.
- 2018 state GDP: $275.7 billion
- GDP higher than: 169 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Bangladesh ($274 billion) plus San Marino ($1.6 billion)
A majority of Connecticut’s GDP comes from private industries: manufacturing, wholesale trade, and real estate and rental leasing among the major contributors. Foreign direct investment in Bangladesh has the Asian country close to surpassing Connecticut’s GDP, while San Marino’s economy is heavily dependent on Italy.
- 2018 state GDP: $73.5 billion
- GDP higher than: 141 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Myanmar ($71.2 billion) plus Central African Republic ($2.2 billion)
Delaware is often the butt of a joke as one of the smaller American states—"The Simpsons" once mocked that one of their main industries is screen door factories. In reality, Delaware produces an abundance of clams, crabs, soybeans, milk, paper, rubber, metals, and sand and gravel. Despite having almost 57 million less residents, Delaware’s mighty economy trumps that of Myanmar and the Central African Republic.
- 2018 state GDP: $1 trillion
- GDP higher than: 196 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Netherlands ($913.7 billion) plus Morocco ($117.9 billion)
Construction, real estate and rental and leasing, and health care and social assistance are a few industries that make Florida’s GDP so robust. As one of only a few U.S. states whose GDP tops $1 trillion, Florida brings in more than the Netherlands (which yes, does get an economic boost from marijuana) and Morocco, whose top exports are vehicles and electrical equipment.
- 2018 state GDP: $592.2 billion
- GDP higher than: 192 of 212 countries
- GDP equal to: Poland ($585.7 billion) plus Liechtenstein ($6.2 billion)
One key contributor to Georgia’s economy is a growing film industry. Shows like “The Walking Dead” have made the Peach State home, helping boost its GDP past tiny Liechtenstein, and Poland, which has the sixth largest economy in the European Union.
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