Another Clinton-Trump Divide: High-Output America vs Low-Output America

Mark Muro and Sifan Liu report for Brookings:

metro_20161129_hi_res-clinton-share-of-economy-long-2Last week, as my colleague Sifan Liu and I were gnawing on some questions asked by Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post, we happened upon a revealing aspect of the election outcome. While looking at number of influences on the presidential vote outcome, we found that in a year of massive divides, one particular economic split stands out.

Our observation: The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015.  By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.

[…] With the exceptions of the Phoenix and Fort Worth areas and a big chunk of Long Island Clinton won every large-sized county economy in the country. Her base of 493 counties was heavily metropolitan.  By contrast, Trumpland consists of hundreds and hundreds of tiny low-output locations that comprise the non-metropolitan hinterland of America, along with some suburban and exurban metro counties, as Indeed Chief Economist Jed Kolko pointed out in a tweet.

Moreover, while this divide is striking by any standard, it appears to be “unprecedented in the era of modern economic statistics,” as Tankersley noted in his story, for a losing presidential candidate to have represented so large a share of nation’s economic base.

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