Little GDP engines that could: District metros see strong growth
Metropolitan regions now account for more than 90 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Given their economic and geographic diversity, metros offer a more detailed look at growth across states and the nation—one which shows that metros in the Ninth District are generally seeing faster growth.
Nationwide, 305 of 383 metropolitan regions (80 percent) saw economic growth in 2012. In the Ninth District, 13 of 15 metros grew last year, or almost 87 percent, and two of three district metros beat the national average of 2.5 percent (see left chart). A large region encompassing much of the lower half of Minnesota—including the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Rochester and Mankato metros—saw growth over 3 percent (see map, at bottom).
But as has become the norm, North Dakota metros were leading the metro pack, with Bismarck at the top at 8.5 percent growth last year, one of the top rates in the country. The region is seeing spillover effects from strong growth in the Bakken oil shale region to the west. Other shale regions are also seeing explosive growth; in the Eagle Ford oil shale region of Texas, the metros of Midland and Odessa both saw growth of 14 percent.
There were two district metros whose economies shrank last year: Duluth, Minn., and Great Falls, Mont. The source of contraction is hard to determine exactly. In the case of Duluth, the city and broader region experienced a major flood in June, which likely dampened economic activity, particularly tourism; the previous two years it had experienced annual growth near 3 percent.
Last year’s growth among district metros continued a general trend in outperforming metros elsewhere. Over the previous three years, 11 of the district’s 15 metros had faster annual growth than the national average (see right chart).