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Tampa Bay’s GDP grew $16.5B from 2019 to 2021, outpacing Florida, U.S.

New federal data shows the region’s economic hit early in the pandemic may not have been as severe as originally feared.
Beachgoers crowd Clearwater Beach in March 2021, evidence that Tampa Bay's tourism and recreation economy was doing well a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday that Tampa Bay's gross domestic product grew slightly from 2019 to 2020, and even more in 2021, as the nation's economy recovered from the pandemic.
Beachgoers crowd Clearwater Beach in March 2021, evidence that Tampa Bay's tourism and recreation economy was doing well a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday that Tampa Bay's gross domestic product grew slightly from 2019 to 2020, and even more in 2021, as the nation's economy recovered from the pandemic. [ CHRIS URSO | Times (2021) ]
Published Dec. 9, 2022

Tampa Bay’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic outpaced Florida’s and the nation’s as a whole last year, according to federal data released Thursday.

By the end of 2021, the eight-county region’s gross domestic product — the value of goods and services produced, minus the cost of production, and a key measure of economic health — had risen 7.9% over 2019 levels, compared to 6.6% statewide and 2.9% nationwide.

That translates to $16.5 billion more in economic output in 2021 than 2019, for a total GDP of $225.7 billion across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which each December compiles county-level GDP data for the previous year, and updates GDP estimates for years prior.

Those updates produced a few notable changes from last year’s report, which indicated Tampa Bay’s GDP fell by $2.4 billion from 2019 to 2020. Adjusted figures in this year’s report indicate the region’s GDP actually grew slightly in that span, by about 0.2% — down from nearly 3.6% growth the year before, but growth nonetheless, at a time when the rest of the nation’s GDP fell 2.8%.

All eight Tampa Bay counties saw significant GDP growth from 2019 to 2021. Pasco County’s GDP grew the most, rising 13.3% to $13.8 billion, followed by Sarasota (up 9.7% to $21.4 billion), Polk (up 8.9% to $27 billion) and Hernando (up 8.9% to $4.3 billion).

The GDP of the region’s two biggest counties, Hillsborough ($91.4 billion) and Pinellas ($48.6 billion), rose 7.9% and 5.3%, respectively. Citrus County’s GDP grew 7.8% to $4.2 billion, and Manatee County’s rose 6.6% to $15 billion.

Florida in 2021 saw its total gross domestic product hit $1 trillion, joining California, New York and Texas in that club. Its GDP growth rate of 6.6% from 2019 to 2021 outpaced those other three states; and was seventh-highest in the country behind Utah, New Hampshire, Idaho, Washington, Arizona and Maine.

While Bureau of Economic Analysis’ next GDP report — factoring in 2022’s economic downturn and interest rate hikes — won’t be available until next December, Florida might not be as affected as other states. The agency reported in September that Florida was one of only 10 states that saw GDP growth during the year’s second quarter, with its 1.6% increase ranking just behind Texas.