15 Cities With the Most Productive Workers

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Workers of all ages
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on HireAHelper.

Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic created for the U.S. economy over the last two years, recent months have shown major signs of positive economic news.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that GDP increased by 7% in the final quarter of 2021, an impressive figure, especially given a concurrent spike in COVID-19 cases at the end of last year. And while inflation has been a significant pressure on many households’ finances, workers in almost every industry have seen wage growth since the pandemic began.

The simultaneous increases in economic productivity and wages are particularly noteworthy because of the increasing gap between these two statistics in recent years.

The data used in this study is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. To determine the locations with the most productive workers, researchers at HireAHelper calculated the total annual gross domestic product (GDP) per worker.

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the most productive economies.

15. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

Charlotte North Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $114,019
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $68,852
  • Annual GDP (total): $184,819,000,000
  • Total employment: 1,620,954
  • Total population: 2,684,276

14. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Cincinnati
anthony-heflin / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $114,580
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $68,350
  • Annual GDP (total): $152,619,000,000
  • Total employment: 1,331,990
  • Total population: 2,232,907

13. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

Port of Baltimore, Maryland tugboat
Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $116,919
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $73,499
  • Annual GDP (total): $205,811,000,000
  • Total employment: 1,760,280
  • Total population: 2,800,189

12. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $117,010
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $68,232
  • Annual GDP (total): $488,165,000,000
  • Total employment: 4,172,005
  • Total population: 7,154,478

11. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $118,796
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $72,143
  • Annual GDP (total): $240,411,000,000
  • Total employment: 2,023,738
  • Total population: 3,332,427

10. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

Dream Master / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $120,473
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $73,670
  • Annual GDP (total): $692,988,000,000
  • Total employment: 5,752,239
  • Total population: 9,406,638

9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $121,012
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $71,883
  • Annual GDP (total): $439,055,000,000
  • Total employment: 3,628,203
  • Total population: 6,107,906

8. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $122,311
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $76,815
  • Annual GDP (total): $1,007,040,000,000
  • Total employment: 8,233,468
  • Total population: 13,109,903

7. Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT

Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $128,108
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $82,657
  • Annual GDP (total): $99,311,154,000
  • Total employment: 775,213
  • Total population: 1,201,483

6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Washington, D.C.
orhan-cam / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $132,624
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $88,705
  • Annual GDP (total): $561,028,000,000
  • Total employment: 4,230,210
  • Total population: 6,324,629

5. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston harbor.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $139,642
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $98,460
  • Annual GDP (total): $480,307,000,000
  • Total employment: 3,439,563
  • Total population: 4,878,211

4. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

THONGCHAI.S / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $152,833
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $94,608
  • Annual GDP (total): $1,809,320,000,000
  • Total employment: 11,838,530
  • Total population: 19,124,359

3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle, Washington
cdrin / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $165,963
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $106,241
  • Annual GDP (total): $426,940,000,000
  • Total employment: 2,572,508
  • Total population: 4,018,598

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco
Pius Lee / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $185,637
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $125,260
  • Annual GDP (total): $588,336,000,000
  • Total employment: 3,169,280
  • Total population: 4,696,902

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual GDP (per worker): $259,532
  • Annual GDP (per capita): $182,893
  • Annual GDP (total): $360,511,000,000
  • Total employment: 1,389,082
  • Total population: 1,971,160

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this study is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. To determine the locations with the most productive workers and economies, researchers calculated the total annual gross domestic product (GDP) per worker. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater per capita GDP was ranked higher. All statistics are from 2020, the most recent year available. Only locations with at least 100,000 residents were included.