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Opinion
Justin Fox

How California Lost a Million Jobs and Gained $342 Billion

The West Coast has seen the biggest increases in GDP and income over the course of the pandemic, even amid major employment declines.

California tech companies had a prosperous pandemic.

California tech companies had a prosperous pandemic.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

From the end of 2019 to the middle of 2021 — the duration (so far) of the pandemic, more or less — the U.S. economy grew at an annualized pace of 0.6%. That masks some pretty big regional divergences, though.

Four of the five worst-performing states, with real gross domestic product shrinking at an annual pace of 2.5% or more, have economies dependent on fossil fuels, the prices of which collapsed early in the pandemic. (The other is tourism-dependent Hawaii.) The recent rise in oil and gas prices will probably boost their third-quarter GDP numbers, which will be released by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis on Oct. 28 for the nation and Dec. 23 for the states, although probably not by enough to make up for all the lost ground.