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Six of Top 10 NatGas Producing States Grew GDP in 2014

Six of the top 10 natural gas producing states were also among the top 10 for growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, but the four remaining states grew at a rate below the national average, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

On Wednesday, the BEA reported that real GDP in the United States grew 2.2% in 2014, up from a 1.9% increase in 2013. Among the top 10 states for GDP growth were six of the nation's top producers of natural gas. North Dakota led all states at 6.3% growth, followed by Texas (5.2%), West Virginia and Wyoming (tied at 5.1%) and Colorado (4.7%). Utah also made the list at 3.1%, as did Oklahoma at 2.8%.

Other states that made the top 10 in GDP growth were Oregon (3.6%), Washington (3.0%) and California (2.8%).

But four states among the top 10 in gas production -- Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Arkansas -- saw their real GDP grow at rates of 1.9%, 1.8%, 1.0% and 0.8%, respectively.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Texas (6.86 Tcf) was the top state for dry gas production in 2013, the latest year where figures are available. EIA data lists Pennsylvania at No. 2 with 3.23 Tcf, followed by Louisiana (2.37 Tcf), Oklahoma (2.0 Tcf), Wyoming (1.78 Tcf), Colorado (1.52 Tcf), Arkansas (1.14 Tcf), New Mexico (1.11 Tcf), West Virginia (703.7 Bcf) and Utah (455.5 Bcf).

The BEA said real GDP increased in all eight regions in 2014, but the Southwest region -- which comprises Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas -- grew the fastest at 4.3%, and attributed the increase to mining in the latter two states.

Similar to the Labor Department, the BEA's definition for mining includes jobs within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) subsector for oil and gas jobs -- specifically, NAICS 211, which includes, among other things, exploration and production, drilling and completing wells, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), field gathering lines and the recovery of natural gas liquids.

"Although mining was not a significant contributor to real GDP growth for the U.S. economy, it did play a key role in several states," the BEA said. "This industry was a large contributor in the five fastest growing states -- North Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Colorado. By contrast, mining continued to decline in Alaska due to lower output on the state's North Slope."

Only two states saw their economies shrink in 2013. Alaska shrank by 1.3%, while Mississippi declined by 1.2%. The growth rate in another state, Virginia, was flat.

Last month, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the collapse in world crude oil prices had caused more than 3,000 oil and gas extraction jobs to disappear in April, as the unemployment rate in the sector climbed to 8.7% (see Daily GPIMay 11). Nationally, BLS said the unemployment rate for April remained unchanged at 5.4%, while the number of unemployed persons was also essentially unchanged, at 8.5 million.

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