Southern California’s $1.6 trillion economy bigger than 18 states combined

I often forget the sheer size of the Southern California economy.

My trusty spreadsheet — filled with the federal government’s annual accounting of gross domestic product by county — says the six-county region produced $1.57 trillion worth of goods in services in 2022.

Now 13-digit numbers are hard to fathom. So let’s add some perspective to this broad measure of business production, adjusted for inflation:

It represents 7% of the nation’s total business.

Only two states have bigger economies – Texas and New York.

Southern California’s output exceeds the business output of 18 states combined.

Plus, the region’s business is only slightly smaller than the output of the rest of the state. The other 52 counties produced $1.6 trillion in 2022 – off 0.4% for the year but up 9.3% since 2019.

That adds up to a California GDP of $3.2 trillion (No. 1 among the states) – up 0.7% for the year (No. 41) and up 6.9% since 2019 (No. 14).

Counting counties

These six Southern California counties all rank in the top 77 for GDP produced among the 3,113 US counties tallied.

Consider what’s going on locally by county, ranked by GDP …

Los Angeles: Its $790 billion GDP is No. 1 among US counties, just ahead of New York (Manhattan) and Cook (Chicago). Compared with states, LA output approximates Pennsylvania’s economy. LA’s GDP grew 2.1% for the year, but is up only 3% since 2019.

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Orange: $270 billion, No. 9 in the US, and on par with Connecticut. Up 0.9% for the year and up 4.8% since 2019.

San Diego: $257 billion, No. 10 in the US, and on par with Oregon. Up 2.9% for the year and up 8.9% since 2019.

Note that Orange and San Diego ranked between the counties of San Francisco and Maricopa (Phoenix).

San Bernardino: $101 billion, No. 39 in the US – ranked between Wayne County (Detroit) and Allegheny County (Pittsburgh). It’s on par with New Mexico. GDP was up 1.3% for the year and up 7% since 2019.

Riverside: $95 billion, No. 45 in the US – ranked between Wake County (that’s Raleigh, North Carolina) and Denver County in Colorado. It’s on par with Idaho. GDP was up 0.8% for the year and up 5.1% since 2019.

Ventura: $53 billion, No. 77 in the US – ranked between New Haven County (Connecticut) and the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County. It’s on par with Montana. GDP was off 0.4% for the year and up 2% since 2019.

Bottom line

Size isn’t everything – and the region’s business growth has been subpar since the pandemic upended the economy.

Southern California GDP was up 1.8% in 2022 and gained 4.6% since pre-pandemic 2019.

That trails the nation’s business expansion: $21.7 trillion produced in 2022 – up 1.9% for the year and up 5.3% since 2019.

And GDP growth in only Los Angeles and San Diego counties beat US growth last year. And just San Diego and San Bernardino topped the nation’s 3-year jump.

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Plus, consider what places my spreadsheet found as the fastest GDP growers among the nation’s 100 biggest county economies …

One-year expansion: Douglas (Omaha) at 9.2%, Collin (Dallas suburbs) at 8.7%, Travis (Austin) at 7.7%, Denver at 7.3%, and Davidson (Nashville) at 6.9%. Southern California’s best, San Diego at 2.9% ranked 37th.

Three-year expansion: Denton (Dallas suburbs) at 27%, Travis (Austin) at 23%, Collin (Dallas suburbs) at 22%, California’s Santa Clara at 20%, and Denver at 18%. Southern California’s tops, San Diego at 8.9% ranked 27th.

Need I say more?

Planetary perspective

Let me mention that Southern California’s economy also looks big on a global scale.

Now to compare local GDPs to the World Bank international business stats for 2022, a slightly different output number is used – “current” output in unadjusted dollars. By this math, the six-county region’s $1.8 trillion GDP is almost as big as Brazil, the world’s 11th largest economy.

And by county …

Los Angeles: $913 billion – just above #19 Turkey.

Orange: $314 billion – just above #45 Romania.

San Diego: $296 billion – just above #47 Czech Republic.

San Bernardino: $123 billion – just below #61 Ethiopia.

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Riverside: $115 billion – on par with #62 Slovakia.

Ventura: $62 billion – just above #85 Slovenia.

And California as a whole? Its current $3.6 trillion GDP ranks fifth-largest economy in the world behind the US, China, Japan and Germany and just ahead of India and the United Kingdom.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

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