West’s Economy Outperforming Rest of United States

/ Series: West Is Best

Explore the West’s economy, regional performance, and what is driving economic growth.

  • From 1970 to 2014, the West’s population and employment grew roughly twice as fast as the rest of the country. Real personal income in the West also rose significantly faster than in non-western states.
  • During the same time, the West’s economy created 5.7 million net new jobs, with 92 percent of the overall growth from services industries such as health care, real estate, and professional, scientific, & technical services.
  • Today, many more western counties have a high concentration of health care and high wage services jobs compared to forestry, wood products and paper; or mining, oil, and natural gas.
  • From 1970 to 2014, non-labor income increased by nearly four-fold in real terms. In 2014, non-labor income—mostly from investments and age-related payments—represented 34 percent of total personal income in the West.

Read the report below, download it as a PDF, or explore the interactive West-Wide Atlas that shows data for every county and state in the continental West.

Interactive West-Wide AtlasDownload Report as PDF

Employment in the West is outpacing the rest of the country.

Chart: Total Employment, West vs. Non-West, 1970-2014
From 1970 to 2014, employment in the West grew by 176 percent. During the same time period, Non-Western employment growth was 89 percent, or roughly half as fast as the West.


Chart: West vs. Non-West, Percent Change, 1970-2014
From 1970 to 2014, the West’s population and employment grew roughly twice as fast as the rest of the country. Real personal income in the West also rose significantly faster than in non-western states.

Compared to the rest of the country, from 1970-2014, the West's employment grew twice as fast


The western economy has outperformed the rest of the U.S. economy in key measures of growth — population, employment, and real personal income — during the last four decades.