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New data show St. Louis County is Missouri's economic giant

New data show St. Louis County is Missouri's economic giant

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Clayton considers its future

A softball game is underway on Monday, July 18, 2016, at Shaw Park under the west side of Clayton's skyline. Photo by Christian Gooden,

Gross domestic product, or GDP, isn't just about nations and states anymore.

The Commerce Department has released GDP estimates by county for the first time, and that allows us to make some comparisons within the St. Louis area. For instance, St. Louis County's economy is two and a half times as large as St. Louis city's, and the city produces nearly twice as much as St. Charles County.

St. Louis County's GDP of $71.6 billion makes it by far the economic powerhouse of Missouri, accounting for fully a quarter of the state's output. Jackson County is second at $40.5 billion and the city of St. Louis is third at $28.5 billion. Greene County, home to Springfield, ranks fourth and St. Charles County, at $14.8 billion, is fifth.

The county estimates of GDP, which measures the value of all goods and services produced in an area, are for 2018. In that year, the St. Louis region's fastest-growing sub-economies were in two Metro East counties, Madison and Monroe, both of which grew at a 4.6% pace.

St. Charles County wasn't far behind with 4.5% growth, but its neighbor Lincoln County had an economy that shrank 0.8%. Details are incomplete, but the slumping agricultural sector could be behind Lincoln County's problems.

St. Louis County's economy grew 2.7% in 2018, slightly behind the U.S. growth rate of 2.9%. The city of St. Louis had a decent year, with 3.6% GDP growth.

The St. Louis city and county economies diverged a bit in their sources of growth. Non-durable goods manufacturing was the sector contributing the most to the city's GDP gain in 2018, while professional and business services made the biggest contribution in the county.

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