News Story

Detroit Metro’s Economy No. 14 In U.S., Bigger Than Nation Of Chile

New York region still No. 1, with economy comparable to Canada; Chicago No. 3, size of Saudi Arabia

The Detroit metro area has an economy that is roughly the same size as the nation of Chile, according a blog post by a free enterprise think tank.

Figures collected by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metro area having the 14th-largest economy among the nation’s metropolitan regions, with a $246 billion gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015.

To place this in perspective, the Carpe Diem blog from the Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute found that the Detroit area's economy is roughly the same size as Chile's economy, which had a GDP of $240 billion in 2015.

Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, authored the blog post titled "Understanding America’s ridiculously large $18T economy by comparing the GDP of US metro areas to entire countries." Perry, a member of the board of scholars at the Mackinac Center for Public policy, wrote that if America's 19 largest metro-area economies were their own nations, all would rank in the world's top 50 largest economies.

If the Detroit area were its own country it would be ranked 41st, placing it ahead of Ireland, Portugal, and Greece but behind Finland, according to World Bank numbers found on Wikipedia.

The BEA says the Detroit area economy grew by 2.1 percent last year, which it attributes to growth in professional, scientific and technical services. The only metro area in the region larger than Detroit is Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, which came in third on the national and experienced 3.1 percent growth in 2015.

Perry said in an email that the report doesn't mention whether the city of Detroit or its surrounding area is what's spurring the growth.

"I don’t think it’s possible to tell from this report how the 2.1 percent GDP growth rate for the MSA [Metropolitan Statistical Area] breaks down between the city of Detroit and the Detroit MSA," he said.

"The Detroit MSA has had positive GDP growth in each of the last 5 years, which is something that has not happened in too many cities,” Perry added. “Also, the 2.1 percent growth is the highest in three years. Overall it looks a fairly positive story for economic growth in the MSA from a macro level."

The official jobless rate in the Detroit metro area is 6.1 percent, ranking it 47th in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Detroit metro's population estimate for 2015 was 4,302,043, according to the Census Bureau. The area had a population of 4,296,250 when the 2010 census was taken. That same year, its GDP was $198 billion.

For comparison, Chile, a country on South America's western coast, had a population of nearly 18 million in 2015, according to the Work Bank.

"The top 20 U.S. metro areas together produced $8.6 trillion of economic output last year, which would place those metro areas as a separate country as the third-largest economy in the world behind No. 2 China ($10.8 trillion) and more than twice the size of No. 3 Japan’s economy ($4.1 trillion)," the blog said.

New York City's metro area had the highest GDP with $1.6 trillion, larger than Canada's economy. Los Angeles and surrounding communities came in second at $931 billion, comparable to Indonesia, a fast-growing nation of 250 million.