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GDP grows in metro areas, including a turnaround in Indiana

September 13, 2011 | 11:24 am

President Obama in Indiana
Metropolitan areas across the country began to bounce back in 2010, producing more goods and services than they had in 2009, but areas across the West, including some in California, continued to stagnate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Real gross domestic product by metropolitan area increased by 2.5% last year, after declining 2.5% the year before, the bureau said. It grew in 304 of 366 metro areas.

The Los Angeles metro area had the second-highest GDP in the nation last year, $670 billion, a 2.5% increase from the previous year. The New York metropolitan area still leads the nation in GDP at $1.3 trillion.

Information and professional and business services led GDP growth in Los Angeles in 2010, the bureau said, while government, construction and transportation slowed it down. Areas where construction was a heavier burden on the economy saw GDP drop last year, especially in the West. In Las Vegas, GDP fell 1.9%, mostly due to construction. In the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area, GDP slipped 0.6% because of declines in construction and manufacturing.

Of the country's largest metro areas, the three with the fastest GDP growth in 2010 were Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, which grew 4.8%, New York-northern New Jersey-Long Island, which grew 4.7%, and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, which rose 3.6%. The Boston area's growth was led by strength in information, financial activities and professional and business services. New York saw huge growth in financial activities.

Contributing to GDP growth, manufacturing returned in many metropolitan areas in 2010, notably including portions of Indiana. Manufacturing boosted GDP in Elkhart-Goshen by 11.4 percentage points, leading to a whopping 13% rise in GDP. GDP in Columbus, Ind., grew by 10.1% over the year.

The Elkhart-Goshen area could be considered a positive story in the economic recovery. Elkhart County had an unemployment rate of 20.3% in March 2009, and was visited by President Obama that year as he pushed his stimulus bill. The unemployment rate has since fallen to 10.6%. Growing demand for Humvees and RVs helped put some people back to work, economists say.

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-- Alana Semuels

Photo: President Obama in Elkhart, Ind., in 2009. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

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