This county is America’s biggest economic contributor, and its not Silicon Valley, Wall Street

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Washington | Published: April 7, 2019 11:53:15 AM

The BEA and the US Census Bureau released inaugural GDP data by county in December for the years 2012-2015.

us, us economy, us populationOne in four Americans lives in the 100 most-populous counties.

Silicon Valley and Wall Street are well-known for producing some of the nation’s most successful businesses but it’s actually Los Angeles County, the home of Hollywood, that crowns the American economy.

Los Angeles County contributed $656 billion in gross domestic product, or 27 percent of California’s economic output, in 2015, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the most-recent data available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s the largest amount of goods and services produced among 3,000-plus counties in the U.S. and equal to the economic might of Saudi Arabia.

The BEA and the U.S. Census Bureau released inaugural GDP data by county in December for the years 2012-2015. The data also include GDP growth by county over a three-year period. GDP represents the total value of goods and services produced over a specific time and is used to gauge the economic health of a country, state or, in this case, a county.

The county of New York, home of Manhattan, placed second with $629.7 billion in GDP. Harris County, an area that includes Houston and its surrounding suburbs, was the largest economy in Texas. Along with Los Angeles County, these three alone generated almost $1 out of every $10 of economic output in the U.S.

In addition to its role as the entertainment capital of the country, Los Angeles County is also the largest manufacturing center in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing generated 341,000 jobs and almost $25 billion in annual wages in 2017, the BLS said. Major employers with headquarters in the county include Walt Disney Co., Mattel Inc. and Dole Food Co.

More than 10 million people live in Los Angeles County, making it the most populous county in the country. It ranks 45th in productivity on a per-capita basis among the 100 most-populous counties, with a GDP equal to each person producing $65,354 in goods and services annually.

New York County, with a population of 1.6 million, placed first with a GDP equal to each person producing $386,425 in goods and services annually. That’s double the second-most productive county — the District of Columbia.

One in four Americans lives in the 100 most-populous counties — all of them classified as “urban” by the Census Bureau. Nine additional counties — including King County in Washington and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina — generated a six-figure per capita GDP.

New York County, the most densely populated county in the US, also led the nation in services-providing industries, beating out No. 2 Los Angeles County and more than double that of No. 3 Cook County, Illinois.

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