By on 1.26.15 in Economic Data, Fun Maps

“More and more, the U.S. economy is defined by its metropolitan areas,” writes Richard Florida at The Atlantic’s CityLab blog. Just over 90% of the nation’s economic activity occurs in metro regions.

In North Carolina, the state’s 15 major metropolitan regions also comprised the majority of economic activity, but at a level less than the national share. In 2013, the state’s combined metro GDP was $407 billion out of a total GDP of $471 billion. This represents 86% of North Carolina’s GDP – a proportion that is slightly inflated due to the inclusion of portions of South Carolina in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metropolitan region.

If North Carolina’s overall economic output is comparable to Norway, how do our state’s MSAs compare to the economic activity of nations?

  • With a GDP of $139 billion in 2013, the Charlotte metropolitan region accounted for 34% of all metropolitan economic activity in the state and just under 30% of the state’s total GDP. Nationally, Charlotte is the 22nd largest MSA by GDP and has economic output slightly greater than the country of Hungary. It would be the world’s 60th largest economy.
  • Raleigh was the 47th largest metro economy in the nation and produced $67 billion in GDP in 2013, roughly equivalent to the economy of Sudan.
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, with $42 billion in GDP, was the 63rd largest metro economy in the U.S. in 2013 and had about the same economic output as Panama.
  • Greensboro-High Point had $38 billion in GDP, making it the 67th largest metro economy in the United States. Its output was greater than that of the Republic of Yemen in 2013.
  • Winston-Salem was the 90th largest metro economy in 2013 and produced $27 billion in GDP, slightly more than Zambia.

If we combine Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill into the region commonly referred to as “The Triangle,” their combined GDP would equal $109 billion, 27% of the state’s metropolitan economic activity and nearly a quarter of the state’s overall GDP. The Triangle has greater output than Morocco ($104 billion) and Puerto Rico ($103 billion) and would be the 32nd largest metro economy in the nation, just after Orlando ($110 billion) and above Sacramento ($108 billion).

Similarly, combining Winston-Salem and Greensboro-High Point into the region commonly referred to as “The Triad” would yield a combined GDP of $65 billion, 16% of the state’s metropolitan economic activity and 14% of the state’s overall GDP. The Triad has similar output to Sudan ($67 billion) and has a combined output similar to that of Raleigh.

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