From Texas and Wyoming to Oregon, growth is heating up west of the Mississippi
The nexus of U.S. growth shifted farther west in 2014, a report released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis Wednesday showed.
Gross domestic product increased by 4.3 percent in the Southwest last year as mining helped Texas boost its output by 5.2 percent, giving it the second-fastest growth rate of any state. The Rocky Mountain region saw a 3.9 percent expansion as the Far West, which includes California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, grew 2.7 percent.
In addition to mining, professional, scientific and technical services helped Western states pull ahead from the rest of the nation last year. The latter made the biggest contribution to U.S. output growth by state in 2014
North Dakota was the fastest-expanding state last year, growing 6.3 percent, following a 0.9 percent advance in 2013 that was revised down sharply from a previously reported 9.7 percent rate.
Still, the states boosted by mining in 2014 might benefit less this year. Oil prices so far this year have averaged about half of what they averaged during the same period a year earlier. Monthly employment data shows that cheap oil has already taken a toll on the industry. Jobs in the oil and gas industry dropped to 193,800 as of May 2015, down from a high of 201,500 last October.
States bringing up the rear included Mississippi — where the economy contracted 1.2 percent last year after dropping 1.1 percent in 2013 — and Alaska, which shrank 1.3 percent following a 4 percent contraction the prior year.
Overall, the U.S. economy expanded 2.2 percent in 2014 based on the state accounts, following 1.9 percent growth the prior year.
The BEA in September will start releasing state GDP data for each quarter, beginning with figures for the first three months of 2015 and going back to 2005.