The Prototype of Eastern Oregon’s GDP

by Christopher Rich

January 17, 2019

Total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) gained ground in Eastern Oregon from 2012 to 2015. Nominal GDP (not adjusted for inflation) grew by 12.8 percent for the period to reach $7.4 billion in 2015. This represents a gain of roughly $850 million over 2012. The region’s GDP growth represents 2.9 percent of Oregon’s overall GDP gain since 2012 with the growth rate trailing 3.6 percentage points behind the state’s growth rate (16.4%). Eastern Oregon accounted for 3.7 percent of Oregon’s total GDP in 2015.

Gross Domestic Product is the value of all goods and services produced in a given area. County-level GDP data was previously unavailable, yet often requested. However, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently released prototype county-level GDP data for 2012 through 2015. The BEA invites comments and feedback on this prototype data, stating, “Data users' evaluations and comments will be used to help review and finalize data sources and the methodology used in preparing these statistics. Official GDP by county statistics are scheduled for release on December 12, 2019.” In the meantime, let’s look at what this prototype data can tell us about Eastern Oregon’s economy.
Real GDP (inflation adjusted) grew at a more modest pace than nominal GDP. In 2015, the region’s real GDP was 6.7 percent larger than it was in 2012. This represents a gain of roughly $440 million in total production. Adjusting for inflation highlights how the economy is faring in relation to how quickly prices are rising. Large nominal gains can be flattened after accounting for inflation. For instance, Morrow and Umatilla counties accounted for 64.6 percent of Eastern Oregon’s total nominal GDP growth since 2012. However, after adjusting for inflation, Morrow County alone accounted for 63.1 percent of the region’s GDP growth, whereas Umatilla County’s contribution to growth dropped from 27.9 percent to just 0.5 percent. Umatilla’s GDP barely kept pace with inflation. In terms of real GDP, Umatilla’s total production was just 0.1 percent higher in 2015 than it was in 2012. Morrow County’s production was 41.0 percent higher in 2015 than it was in 2012.
The current release of GDP data contains three components that make up total GDP: private goods-producing industries, private services-providing industries, and government and government enterprises. For Eastern Oregon overall, real GDP growth came only in private goods-producing industries. Private goods-producing industries saw real GDP increase by 35.9 percent from 2012 to 2015. This component accounted for 28.7 percent of the region’s total GDP in 2015, a slightly larger share than in 2012. Real GDP for private services-providing industries decreased by 2.1 percent since 2012 and for government and government enterprises real GDP decreased by 3.1 percent. Private services-providing industries accounted for slightly more than half of Eastern Oregon’s GDP in 2015 and government and government enterprises accounted for just under one-fifth of GDP.
Half of Eastern Oregon’s real GDP growth in goods-producing industries came from Morrow County and one-fourth came from Umatilla County. The growth contribution from Morrow came during a period when the county added more than 600 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 construction jobs. Umatilla’s contribution came during a period when the county gained 200 durable goods manufacturing jobs and construction employment picked up by 140. Umatilla County, however, also saw a loss of 280 non-durable goods manufacturing jobs from 2012 to 2015; a contributing factor in the county’s smaller contribution to GDP growth in goods-producing industries.

Seven of eight Eastern Oregon counties saw gains in total GDP from 2012 to 2015. Aside from Morrow County, Harney was the only other county to show growth of more than 10.0 percent in real GDP. Harney County’s real GDP grew by 16.9 percent. Union and Malheur had the next largest gains at 8.2 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. Wallowa was the only county in the region to see a decrease in total GDP since 2012. While the county’s real GDP increased in 2014 and 2015, GDP had dropped substantially in 2013, causing an overall decrease of 13.2 percent for the 2012 to 2015 period.

It feels nice to kick off the New Year with the birth of a brand new data set for regional economic activity. Overall, Eastern Oregon’s GDP looks to be on an upward trend, gaining ground rapidly in Morrow and Harney counties. I look forward to bringing you more details about regional and county level GDP in the future. Feel free to send questions and/or comments to me at You can also provide feedback for the Bureau of Economic Analysis at


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