Almost half of the counties Trump won in the 2016 election were in the middle of a recession that shrunk their economies

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REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
  • Over half of the counties that President Trump carried in 2016 were in the middle of a recession, according to recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Reuters first reported that a slowdown in economic growth struck hardest in areas that ended up supporting Trump.
  • 2,600 counties that backed Trump saw growth crawl past 1% on average and just under half of them actually experienced a steep four-point percentage drop.
  • The widening gulf between large cities in urban areas and small towns in rural counties could serve as a potent backdrop once again in the 2020 presidential race.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Over half of the counties that President Trump carried in 2016 were in the midst of a recession, according to recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Reuters first reported that the slowdown in economic growth three years ago struck hardest in areas that ended up supporting Trump. In these nearly 2,600 counties, growth crawled past 1% on average.

Almost 1,200 of them experienced a four point drop in their growth domestic product, helping explain why Trump’s pledges to bring back jobs and revitalize US manufacturers carried additional weight in these areas, particularly in the Midwest.

It’s a stark difference from the 500 counties that backed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, which experienced a modest bump of 1.8% that slightly outpaced the national economy that year. Only a third of them saw a small drop in their economic outputs, Reuters reported.

By comparison, the American economy grew by merely 1.6%, dragged down by declines in business investment and manufacturing.

The data reflects a widening gulf in the prospects of rural communities and large cities in the United States that could serve as an economic backdrop again in the 2020 presidential race – with both positive and negative implications for Trump’s re-election chances.

An increasing share of the economy is clustering around large cities and by the coasts, threatening to leave rural areas even further behind.

The BEA data found that nearly one-third of the American economy is concentrated in only 31 counties that generated 32.3% of the nation’s GDP, Bloomberg reported. Los Angeles County in California and New York County added nearly $735 billion to the GDP combined in 2018.

Still, the gains since 2016 is more widespread than it was before, the study showed. The number of counties with shrinking economies has been cut in half in the first two years of Trump’s presidency.