Area GDP rises with recovery

Posted: March 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Charlotte Mandel, a nurse at Winchester Medical Center, enters patient information into a computer. The area’s health-care industry is one of the drivers behind recent growth following the recession. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — After backsliding during the recession, the city and surrounding area’s gross domestic product has rebounded and continued to climb in 2011 — the latest data available.

Numbers released Feb. 22 from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that the Winchester metropolitan area’s real GDP — the total inflation-adjusted value of goods produced and services provided — grew by 0.7 percent in 2011 to $4.5 billion.

The area’s growth rate ranked 183rd out of 366 metropolitan areas nationally.

The Winchester metropolitan statistical area (MSA) includes Frederick County and Hampshire County, W.Va. Although the area’s real GDP increased in 2010 and 2011, it remained slightly below its 2009 level.

Real GDP decreased from $4.6 billion in 2006 to $4.2 billion in 2009.

In 2011, real estate GDP continued to fall from its high in 2007, when it accounted for $487 million of GDP. In 2011, it was $332 million.

The sectors of government, education and health care, meanwhile, continued their unabated growth since 2001.

In 2011, government — federal, state and local — constituted $449 million of the Winchester area’s GDP, while education and health services made up $523 million.

GDP tied to manufacturing rose each year from 2009 through 2011 after suffering mostly losses since the turn of the century. In 2011, manufacturing GDP was $1.2 billion — the largest sector in the Winchester MSA.

The local economic revival is encouraging to Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission.

“Winchester and Frederick County, like most everywhere in Virginia and the U.S., endured some hardship during the last recession,” he said.

But the city’s and county’s devotion to business development is a big reason for the near-constant GDP growth, Barker said.

By aiding existing companies with expansions — often through the use of economic development incentives — the city- and countyfunded EDC has helped to fuel job and GDP growth, he said.

Among Virginia metropolitan areas of similar size, Winchester is near the top of the list in important economic indicators.

“[The Winchester MSA] has secured the most capital investment and third-most jobs among metropolitan areas in Virginia with less than 1 million in population over the past 10 years,” Barker said.

In 2011, GDP increased in 242 of the 366 metro areas for which the Bureau of Economic Analysis keeps data.

The GDP of the Harrisonburg MSA — which includes Rockingham County — contracted in 2011 to $5.5 billion. The 1.6 percent decline ranked 332nd out of 366 metro areas in the nation.

Roanoke’s GDP grew by 0.4 percent, Richmond’s by 0.9 percent, Danville’s by 0.7 percent and Charlottesville’s by 0.4 percent, while Lynchburg’s GDP decreased by 0.3 percent

The Washington, D.C., metro area’s GDP grew by 1.1 percent in 2011 to $433 billion, ranking it fourth nationally.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com