California counties rank in the nation’s Top 50 economies
Jonathan Lansner December 28, 2021, 2:12 PM
Buzz: California has 11 county economies among the nation’s 50 largest.
Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed various economic output figures including 2020 gross domestic product by county from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, national GDPs from the World Bank for 2020, and 2021’s corporate sales of large U.S. publicly held firms from Companiesmarketcap.com.
It’s often hard to grasp just how much business is made in the oft-maligned Golden State economy.
Just look at what the recent release of data on local business activity tells us. When I put countywide outputs measured by GDP math into some geographical perspective, even California’s 11th largest economy — Contra Costa County — has more business value flowing through it than what’s produced in all of New Hampshire or Luxembourg or sold by Pepsico.
Let’s start our analysis with the state’s biggest economy, Los Angeles County. Its economic output in 2020 was valued at $659 billion even after shrinking 6.3% in a pandemic-chilled year. By the way, the national economy slipped 3.4% in 2020.
Now $659 billion is a big number. How big?
1.Among 3,000 U.S. counties, it’s the largest — easily topping No. 2 Manhattan’s New York County.
2.If LA County were a state, its economy would rank No. 7 between Pennsylvania and Ohio.
3.If LA County was a nation, it would be the world’s No. 21 biggest economy — between Saudi Arabia and Poland.
4.And if you viewed GDP through the corporate lens of sales volume, LA County’s $221 billion would make it No. 1 among U.S. company revenues — larger than retailer Walmart, the nation’s biggest company for sales.
Elsewhere in California
Santa Clara: $340 billion GDP for 2020, fifth among all U.S. counties (just ahead of Seattle’s King County) after growing 4.4% in 2020. As a state, it would rank 17th between Colorado and Indiana. As a nation, it would rank 37the between Hong Kong and Singapore. And its cash flow vs. corporate revenues would make it the No. 5 company for sales — between Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and CVS Health.
Orange: $221 billion, the No. 9 county (just ahead of San Diego County) after shrinking 4.4% in 2020. As a state, it’s 25th between Louisiana and Oregon. As a nation, No. 49 between Portugal and New Zealand. It ranks 10th among U.S. publicly owned firms — between tech’s Alphabet (Google) and medicine’s AmerisourceBergen.
San Diego: $208 billion, No. 10 (just ahead of San Francisco County) after shrinking 2.9% in 2020. As a state, No. 27 between South Carolina and Alabama. As a country, No. 50 between New Zealand and Iran. And vs. corporate revenues, it’s 11th between AmerisourceBergen and retailer Costco.
San Francisco: $175 billion, No. 11 (just ahead of Atlanta’s Fulton County) after shrinking 0.8% in 2020. As a state, No. 30 between Kentucky and Utah. As a nation, 53rd between Greece and Kazakhstan. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 13th between tech’s Microsoft and telecom’s AT&T.
San Mateo: $124 billion, No. 15 (just ahead of Alameda County) after shrinking 1.1% in 2020. As a state, No. 34 between Nevada and the District of Columbia. As a nation, 59th between Qatar and Morocco. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 24th between automaker General Motors and the JPMorgan Chase bank.
Alameda: $122 billion, No. 16 (just ahead of Minneapolis’ Hennepin County) — after shrinking 3.5% in 2020. As a state, No. 35 between the District of Columbia and Nebraska. As a nation, it’s No. 59 between Qatar and Morocco. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 24th between General Motors and JPMorgan Chase.
San Bernardino: $82.2 billion, No. 39 (just ahead of Illinois’ DuPage County) after shrinking 1.9% in 2020. As a state, No. 39 between New Mexico and New Hampshire. As a nation, it’s 67th between Ecuador and Sri Lanka. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 38th between shipper FedEx and medicine’s Humana.
Sacramento: $81.6 billion, No. 41 (just ahead of Alabama’s Montgomery County) after shrinking 2.8% in 2020. As a state, No. 39 between New Mexico and New Hampshire. As a nation, No. 67 between Ecuador and Sri Lanka. And vs. corporate revenues, No. 38 between FedEx and Humana.
Riverside: $78.3 billion, No. 44 (just ahead of Connecticut’s Fairfield County) after shrinking 3% in 2020. As a state, No. 39 between New Mexico and New Hampshire. As a nation, No. 70 between the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 43rd between Intel and Procter & Gamble.
Contra Costa: $76.7 billion, No. 46 (just ahead of Florida’s Palm Beach County) after shrinking 3.3% in 2020. As a state, No. 39 between New Mexico and New Hampshire. As a nation, it’s No. 71 between Guatemala and Luxembourg. And vs. corporate revenues, it ranks 44th between Procter & Gamble and Pepsico.
I hope this list helps you understand that for all of the imperfections of California’s business climate, its economy remains a huge collection sum of stuff getting managed, designed, built, shipped and sold.
Size says something. And many outsiders would love to have the state’s economic headaches
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