West Coast vs. East Coast economy: Which is bigger?


An overview of West Coast vs. East Coast economy

California would be the fifth-largest country in the world if it were a nation. Its Gross Domestic Product was nearly $3 trillion in 2018. This is an increase of $178 million over the year before. 3


It all depends on the comparisons used to make an East-West comparison. It all depends on the choice of comparisons when comparing East and West.



The West Coast Economy

California is considered a triple threat economically. Economically, California is a triple threat.


The wine industry is also important. The U.S. wine industry alone was worth more than $40 billion in 2018. 9

California has seen a surge of growth, attributed to the rise in real estate prices and the financial services sector. Both have experienced strong growth after the 2008 financial crisis. 10


The West Coast also has a major advantage: It is the gateway to international commerce. California and Washington have both major ports that allow trade between the U.S.A.S. and Asia. These ports support the exchange and manufacture of goods. 11 As Asian economies develop and participate in the global economic system, these ports become an integral part of the global economy.


$40.3 Billion

In 2018, California saw a total of $99.

Oregon and Washington are not to be overlooked when examining the West Coast economy. Both were among top-performing states in GDP growth between 2018 & 2019. 12


The Pacific Northwest is a center for technological innovation. It is home to Microsoft as well as Amazon, as well as other businesses such as retailer Costco as Starbucks.


The East Coast Economy

We’ll be comparing apples to apples if we first look at California and New York State.


New York State’s 2019 GDP was $1.7 Trillion. This is significantly less than California’s $3.1 Trillion and nearly as low as Canada’s $3.1 Trillion. 13 HTML4


It may be more prudent to look at New York City as a metropolitan area than California due to its vast spread across many states. According to the United States Conference of Mayors (USCoM), New York had a greater gross metropolitan product (GMP), of $1.66 trillion. 14


Utah and Washington are among the fastest-growing states in GDP growth at 3.4%. Rhode Island, Montana, and California are also growing at the same rate at 2.2%. 5

The East Coast economy is dominated by the Philadelphia and Boston areas, each with $490 billion and $486 billion respectively. These three regions together roughly equal California’s economic output, leaving out many smaller but equally important cities.


15 New York City may be the financial capital of America, if it is not the world. But, these aren’t the only New York City specialties. The biggest New York City industry are now professional and commercial services, information, education services, and retail and wholesale trading. 16


This is not all. Many of America’s top corporate giants are headquartered here, including JPMorgan Chase, Colgate-Palmolive and Verizon. 17.



  • California’s 2019 gross domestic product exceeded $3 trillion. 3
  • The East Coast’s total was approximately the same when all four major metro areas were combined.
  • The largest companies are increasingly establishing strong presences on both the east and west coasts.

Extra Considerations for East and West

The West Coast-versus East Coast question might not be as relevant any longer.


Google and Alphabet are headquartered out of San Francisco. But, Google employs 8,000 people in New York City. New York dominates banking but Wells Fargo is located in California. 20


Bank of America has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. 21


California and New York have the largest state economies in the U.S., but there is also a faster-growing economy. According to 2018, figures from Bureau of Economic Analysis: Montana, Rhode Island and Utah matched California’s 2.2% annual growth rate, while Utah at 3.4% growth beat them all.