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Pittsburgh Perspectives  

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Thursday, December 12, 2019  11:00 AM  (28)

Ethane cracker construction generates GDP growth for Beaver County

In 2018, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released for the first time prototype estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for all counties in the United States.  That initial release included data through 2015.  Today the BEA released the first official county-level estimates for all counties in the United States for the years 2001-2018.

Estimates of GDP are widely used to measure both the size and economic health of nations and sub-regions.  In the United States, national GDP estimates are reported quarterly by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. State and metropolitan area estimates of GDP are also produced annually by the BEA.

In 2018, all counties in southwestern Pennsylvania generated GDP growth, but the annual growth rates varied significantly and ranged from +0.6% for Armstrong County to +6.0% for Beaver County, the highest county-level GDP growth in the region. These estimates show that Allegheny County generates over $96 billion in GDP annually or 63% of GDP of the 7-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area  (MSA). Allegheny County experienced +3.2% GDP growth in 2018.

GDP growth for Beaver County in 2018 was generated primarily by the construction industry. Just under $400 million of net growth of county GDP was generated by the construction industry alone, most the result of the ongoing construction of a new ethane refinery in the county. This represented a 62.5% increase in construction industry-generated GDP in the county over 2017 levels.  In addition, Beaver County industries with the fastest GDP growth in 2018 included the transportation and warehousing industries (+7.8%), information industries (+6.2%) and manufacturing industries (+4.6%). Growth across other industries was more than enough to offset GDP declines in utility industries (-18%) and agriculture and related industries which contracted by nearly 90%. 



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