Gross Domestic Product in Kansas Counties


Examining the economy of Kansas counties in an interactive visualization.

This interactive visualization presents annual gross domestic product (GDP) by county and industry for Kansas. The source of the original data is Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce. I’ve gathered this data, performed some calculations, and present it in an interactive visualization.

BEA provides these values as real, meaning adjusted for inflation. Data ranges from 2001 to 2020. I also incorporate BEA’s county population estimates to produce per capita values.

One of the calculations I performed is determining the difference between the value for a county and the state. The most useful of these is the difference in per capita GDP between a county and the statewide value. If this value is zero, the county produces at the same rate, per person, as the state. This lets us place values in context: If per capita GDP for a county is $55,000, what does that mean? The value for the state in 2020 was about $53,691, so that county is a little above the state. Its difference is $1,309.

In 2020, GDP per capita in Kansas was $53,691, down from $54,854 the prior year. (These are in 2012 dollars.)

Chart 1 makes three presentations:

  • The difference from statewide value for per capita GDP for each county
  • The distribution of the difference from statewide value for per capita GDP for each county
  • Total GDP for each county

For illustrating the distribution, I show a box plot, also known as a box-and-whisker plot. It helps illustrate the distribution of the data. The line in the box shows the median value. Half the values lie above the median and half below. It is not the same as the average (mean) value, although it is often close. The box covers the middle 50 percent of the data. The bottom of the box (sometimes called a hinge), therefore, indicates the twenty-fifth percentile, and the top, the seventh-fifth. The “whiskers” indicate — usually — a range that is 1.5 times the interquartile range. Values lying outside this range are typically considered outliers and may appear as dots.

Controls allow for sorting the counties in several ways, selecting years, and selecting an industry.

Two examples from Chart 1 show the difference in scale of Kansas counties. The first sorts counties by the difference in per capita GDP from the statewide value. Wichita Country has the greatest value. But considering total GDP, the line is barely visible above zero, as Wichita County has a small population.

The second example sorts by total GDP, and we see the state’s largest counties first.

A second set of examples includes manufacturing as the only industry. When sorted by per capita, McPherson County has the highest value, but we also see it has a relatively small total value. When sorted by total GDP, the second example shows Sedgwick County’s prominence in manufacturing.

To access this interactive visualization, click here.


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