West Coast Economy vs. East Coast: Which Is More Important?

An Overview of West Coast Economy vs. East Coast Economy


California, if it was a nation would be fifth in world economic size. Its GDP was close to $3 trillion in 2018, an increase of $178billion over the previous year. 3


It depends on what comparisons you use to compare East-West. It all depends on what comparisons are used in an East-West comparison.


The West Coast economy

California is facing a triple threat in terms of economic growth. California is facing a triple threat economically.


However, don’t forget to mention the wine industry. California wine sales alone exceeded $40 billion in 2018, 9

California has seen an upsurge in growth thanks to the financial industry and upward pressure on real property prices. Both have seen strong growth in the past decade since the 2008 financial crisis. 10


Another advantage the West Coast has is its ability to facilitate international trade. California and Washington both have significant ports for trade between America and Asia. These ports allow for the exchange of goods.


$40.3 billion

Total California wine sales to the U.S. in 2018 9

Oregon and Washington must be considered when looking at the West Coast economy. Both states were among the best performing in terms GDP growth between 2018-19. 12


The Pacific Northwest has been the center of technological innovation. This is because it is home to Microsoft and Amazon.


The East Coast Economy

To compare apples to apples let’s first examine California and New York State.


New York State’s GDP for 2019 was $1.7 billion. It is smaller than California’s $3.13 trillion and more comparable to Canada’s economy. 13 3 4


The New York metro area is more comparable to California because of its extensive sprawl over several states. According to the United States Conference of Mayors 14, New York City’s gross metropolitan product (GMP), was more than $1.66 billion.


Utah and Washington rank as the fastest-growing US states by GDP with 3.4% growth. Rhode Island is growing as fast at California with 2.2%, while Montana and Rhode Island are at 2.2%. 5

In terms of East Coast economies however, this leaves out the Philadelphia area at approximately $490billion and the Boston region at around $486billion. These three regions, together with a few smaller but no less important cities, roughly equal California’s economy.


Added to that, many of America’s biggest corporate giants are located in New York City, including Verizon, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase. Colgate-Palmolive is also a major hub. 17



  • California’s gross domestic products surpassed $3 trillion in 2019. 3
  • The East Coast had roughly the same total when the four largest metropolitan areas were combined.
  • The presence of large companies on both sides of the Atlantic is growing.

Considerations Special on East and West

The West Coast versus East Coast issue may not be relevant for much longer.


Google and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are headquartered San Francisco. However Google has 8,000 employees at its New York City offices.18 19 California is Silicon Valley. Many new media companies, such as Vice Media, Snapchat and BuzzFeed, have offices in New York. New York dominates banking. However, Wells Fargo’s headquarters are in California.


Bank of America headquarters are located in Charlotte (North Carolina). 


California and New York are the biggest state economies in the U.S. but there are other faster-growing economies. According to 2018 figures, Montana and Rhode Island had 2.2% growth rates, while Utah’s 3.4% growth rate beat them all.

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