How big is West Hollywood’s economy?
In an earlier report, we measured the size of West Hollywood’s economy in terms of taxable sales. In this report, we’ll use a broader measure that isn’t normally applied to small cities: gross domestic product (GDP).
GDP is the sum of the economic value added in a geographic area. Put another way, it’s the dollar value of final goods and services produced. It avoids double-counting the value of intermediate goods and services, such as the flour used to make bread.
Size of California’s economy
For context, California’s GDP was $2.7 trillion in 2017, the biggest in the country. It represented one-seventh of the national economy. Texas’ economy came in second. It was about 40% smaller than California’s. Both California’s population (40 million) and its GDP per capita were bigger than Texas’.
If California were a country, its economy would be the fifth-largest in the world. The US as a whole, China, Japan, and Germany would come before California. The United Kingdom, India, France, Brazil, Italy, and many others would come after it.
Size of the metropolitan Los Angeles economy
Metropolitan Los Angeles encompasses Los Angeles and Orange counties and their 13 million residents. The metro area had a $1 trillion GDP in 2016. That was almost 40% of California’s total. The state’s second and third largest economies were in the Bay Area. Together, metro San Francisco and metro San Jose represented a quarter of the state’s GDP.
If metro Los Angeles were a country, it would be ranked sixteenth as of 2016. It would be just behind Mexico and just ahead of Indonesia.
If metro Los Angeles were a state, its economy would be the fourth largest in the US as of 2016. The only states with bigger economies are California, Texas, and New York. If we put all states and metro areas on the same list, Los Angeles would be bumped down to fifth. Metro New York would come in at number two. It covers parts of four states.
Size of West Hollywood’s economy
We estimate West Hollywood’s GDP at over $3 billion as of 2016. That’s the economic value added within the city by workers, businesses, government entities, and non-profits. It excludes the economic value residents created when they worked outside the city. That value would be counted in another city’s GDP. We describe how we got to the $3 billion estimate at the end of this report.
Estimated West Hollywood GDP: $3.3 billion
West Hollywood’s economy was only 0.3% of metro Los Angeles’ $1 trillion total. However, the city’s GDP was still more than that of 33 small countries, including many island nations.
West Hollywood GDP per capita and per worker
If we divide our GDP estimate by 36,000 residents, we get a West Hollywood GDP per capita of over $90,000. That’s higher than the metro Los Angeles average. However, West Hollywood’s GDP per capita isn’t very meaningful in this case, because most of the city’s residents aren’t involved in generating that economic activity. Most West Hollywood residents who work do so outside the city.
A more meaningful number is GDP per worker. It’s close to $115,000 for West Hollywood, significantly below average for metro Los Angeles. We assume that’s due to the mix of jobs in West Hollywood compared to the metro area as a whole.
Top industries in West Hollywood
The city’s top industries are usually identified based on employment. With the GDP data, we can instead highlight industries based on economic value added. The data is limited to 13 broad industry categories defined by the Federal government.
The chart below shows the five industry categories that make the largest contributions to West Hollywood’s GDP. The biggest one includes the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, bars), the creative side of the entertainment industry (writers, actors, etc.), and some other industries such as fitness. Together, those industries represent a quarter of the economic value added in the city.
The second-largest category is professional and business services, such as lawyers and advertising agencies. They represent about 20% of the city’s economy. The other categories in the top five are real estate and finance (banking), retail, and government.
GDP is typically a country-level metric. BEA also provides estimates at the state and metropolitan levels. They don’t do estimates for small cities like West Hollywood. We did, using an approach inspired by their methodology for metropolitan areas.
We broke the city’s economy down into 13 Federally-defined industry categories: retail, construction, etc. We estimated the GDP for each category in West Hollywood and then added them together to get the city’s GDP.
To estimate each industry’s GDP in West Hollywood, we started with BEA’s industry-by-industry estimates for metro Los Angeles. We assumed that West Hollywood’s percentage share of each industry’s GDP was the same as the city’s share of workers’ earnings in that industry. By earnings, we mean wages, salaries, and proprietors’ income.
To get workers’ earnings for West Hollywood and metro Los Angeles, we estimated average earnings per worker in each industry and multiplied by the number of workers in that industry. We had to use data from three different Census Bureau sources, because data is limited for a small city like West Hollywood.
Residents didn’t enter into the calculations, unless they happened to work in the city.
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