2021 U.S. States By GDP And Which States Have Experienced The Biggest Growth

  Written and Published By Forbes, August 4, 2021       Despite renewed uncertainties and struggles regarding the delta variant of Covid-19, the economy of the United States has rebounded immensely from the depths it reached in the first half of 2020. Across the U.S., every state experienced a harsh initial impact on their economies. Since then, however, the recovery has been very uneven, with some states returning to pre-pandemic form and others not so much. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), we analyzed percent changes in annual and quarterly GDP data to determine which states have seen their economies grow the fastest over the last two decades — from 2000 to 2020 — as well as over the last 10 years, five years, and year-over-year growth from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. Read on to find out which places made the list of our top-10 best states by GDP growth.  

10 States With the Biggest Growths in GDP of 2021

Based on the criteria used in the study, the majority of the states to make the list of the states with the largest growths in GDP are located in the western half of the U.S. The remainder of the top-10 states are those located in the U.S. Southeast. Here’s a closer look at the best-performing economies in terms of GDP by state.  

1. Utah

The Utah economy has been a powerhouse in recent decades, hence the reason why it takes the No. 1 spot. Over the last five years, Utah’s GDP grew by an excellent 19.1%, the second-highest growth rate for that period out of all 50 states. Going back to 2010, real GDP in Utah expanded by more than a third (36.6%), from approximately $123.47 billion in 2010, to an annual average of $168.62 billion in 2020 (with 2020 including the pandemic’s most severe impact). And the growth in Utah’s economy over the last 20 years is even more astounding: 82%, from an annual real GDP of $92.62 billion in 2000, to nearly $169 billion in 2020.

2. Washington

Home to one of the largest concentrations of tech companies out of all 50 states, Washington managed to come in at the No. 2 spot on our list. Since the turn of the millennium, Washington’s economy has boomed, with its annual real GDP rocketing by 74.2%, from $312.65 billion in 2000, to more than $544.63 billion in 2020. According to the latest data (first quarter 2021), Washington’s GDP stands at a record-high of $565.70 billion, a massive improvement over Q1 2020 when it was roughly $13 billion lower ($552.60 billion).  

3. Idaho

Idaho is no stranger to economic and population growth, though the latter grew noticeably when the pandemic hit and urban workers on the West Coast relocated to the state in droves, creating issues for local employers, according to KREM. As of the first quarter of 2021, Idaho real GDP stands at $77.39 billion, which is a staggering figure for a state whose population is only about 1.85 million people. The pandemic’s economic impact brought Idaho’s GDP down slightly, declining only 1.1% from 2019 to 2020. Idaho’s economy has recovered very well, experiencing year-over-year GDP growth of 2% from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021. Outside the pandemic, the Idaho economy has reported incredible growth, in both the short- and long-term. Over the last five years, Idaho GDP rose by more than 17%; over the last 10 years, it rose by almost 28%; and from 2000 to 2020, annual real GDP in Idaho rose by 56%, from approximately $47.49 billion in 2000, to $74.08 billion in 2020.  

4. Colorado

For the last 20 years, Colorado has become one of the top destinations for internally migrating Americans. Many Colorado cities — not just Denver — have seen an explosion in their populations and economic activity. As a result, Colorado ranks as the No. 4 state where GDP has grown the most over the years. Since the turn of the millennium, Colorado’s real GDP has grown by more than half, from $232.83 billion in 2000, to $351.07 billion in 2020. While 2020’s annual GDP is down from 2019’s approximate $356.28 billion, Colorado’s economy has improved quite well since the initial impact of the pandemic in 2020. Colorado’s real GDP in the first quarter this year is up 1.4% from the same time last year: from $360.16 billion in Q1 2020, to $365.05 billion in Q1 2021.  

5. Arizona

The Arizona economy is the 19th biggest in the U.S., based on 2020 annual real GDP by state, with an average GDP of roughly $320.66 billion that year. That’s up a remarkable 54.3% since 2000, when annual Arizona GDP that year stood at roughly $207.77 billion. The Covid-19 pandemic gave Arizona a bit of trouble, but the state’s GDP only fell 0.9%, from about $232.59 billion in 2019, down to $320.66 billion in 2020. Currently, Arizona’s GDP has reached a historic high of $334.03 billion in Q1 2021.


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