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This project examines the largest 150 extended metropolitan areas in the U.S. by population, according to the 2020 census, which are found in 46 of 50 U.S. states. In total, these 150 EMAs are home to 277 million people, which is approximately 84% of the U.S. population. They generate more than $23 trillion in GDP annually, which represents more than 89% of the yearly national total.

To find information about your EMA and compare other areas, visit the project dashboard.

Along with an online dashboard featuring data and indicators for 150 EMAs, this collaborative effort includes detailed economic snapshots with local insight for 30 EMAs within the regions that Fifth Third Bank serves.

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We created extended metropolitan areas (EMAs) as a designation for U.S. urban areas that are connected in economically meaningful ways. EMAs are generally aggregated from county-level data, the deepest level at which most economic data is reported. This project examines 150 EMAs, the size and characteristics of which range widely.

The color spectrum indicates a distribution of outcomes in values that range from negative (red) to positive (green), with zero set to yellow. The darker the color the greater the value, so dark red is more negative than light red and dark green is more positive than light green.

Our sectors are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics “supersectors” designating 10 categories that encompass the entirety of national economic output. The sectoral breakdowns, such as “durable goods” and “nondurable goods” within the manufacturing supersector, are drawn from North American Industry Classification System codes. This is the standard used by federal statistical agencies for classification purposes pertaining to the U.S. business economy.

We employ two distinct models to create our forecasts, one for GDP growth and another for employment. The GDP forecast incorporates employment data, U.S. GDP data and data capturing local growth characteristics, among others. The employment forecast uses industry specific data, U.S. financial assets data and other data to model overall employment growth for each EMA and the nation.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of the aggregate value of a designated area’s goods and services and a comprehensive indicator of economic activity. An EMA’s GDP is a function of a multitude of factors including its population and productivity.

Productivity is commonly defined as the level of economic output generated by each worker, and it is a key determinant of a society’s standard of living. Productivity can be increased through a variety of channels, such as mechanization, more efficient energy use and more streamlined organization of workers and their processes. These mechanisms all result in workers being able to do more with the time they spend working. More productive areas and workforces can provide more goods and services for the same amount of work, which in turn promotes higher standards of living. This is why economists, business leaders and policymakers strive to increase productivity.

The employment shares plot shows the portion of an EMA’s workforce (blue dot) and its GDP (green dot) attributed to each supersector, compared with the same measures for the national average. The difference between the blue and green dots—the length of the gray line—indicates the sector’s relative productivity. Where employment shares are less than GDP shares, the blue dot will appear to the left of the green dot, which indicates a workforce segment that produces a disproportionately large share of GDP and thus a particularly productive sector. The greater the difference, the longer the gray line and the more productive the sector is per worker. The inverse is true where employment shares exceed GDP shares and the blue dot appears to the right of the green dot. In these instances, the sector’s workforce produces a disproportionately small share of GDP, and the longer the gray line the less productive the sector is per worker.

The GDP share plot breaks down an EMA’s supersectors into its component sectors. For example, “business services” is divided into “management and administrative services” and “scientific and technical services” to show each sector’s share of GDP. This plot visualizes an EMA’s total economic activity with each sector’s size, indicating its proportional representation of output.

In our analysis, supply refers to factors—such as employment—that go into production of goods and services. Weak supply indicates a lower than optimal level of production inputs, which limits output and economic growth potential.

In our analysis, demand refers to consumer and business demand for goods and services, which is a primary driver of economic output and growth. Weak demand indicates a lower than optimal level of overall demand, which hampers activity and prospects for expansion.

Local growth characteristics is an output of our growth forecast model and an indicator of an EMA’s embedded industry and demographic mix. This indicator points to an area’s potential economic growth based on measures such as the locale’s industrial productivity, skill-level and age distribution of its workforce. These characteristics indicate the relative size of an area’s economic growth engine.

Our models and indicators are updated twice a year, incorporating the latest data in each update.

Data generally comes from government sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau.


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Fifth Third Bank

Fifth Third is a bank that's as long on innovation as it is on history. Since 1858, we've been helping individuals, families, businesses and communities grow through smart financial services that improve lives. Our list of firsts is extensive, and it's one that continues to expand as we explore the intersection of tech-driven innovation, dedicated people and focused community impact. Fifth Third is one of the few U.S.-based banks to have been named among Ethisphere's World's Most Ethical Companies® for several years. With a commitment to taking care of our customers, employees, communities and shareholders, our goal is not only to be the nation's highest performing regional bank, but to be the bank people most value and trust.

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Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

We develop and promote innovative, market-based solutions to vital economic issues. With the belief that private enterprise is the cornerstone of a prosperous and free society, we foster the entrepreneurial spirit to stimulate economic prosperity and improve the lives of people in North Carolina, across the country and around the world.

Notices & Disclosures: The opinions expressed herein are those of Fifth Third and the Kenan Institute collaboratively and may not actually come to pass. This information is current as of the date of first publication and is subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions. This information is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute the rendering of investment advice or research, or specific recommendations on investment activities and trading.
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