Milwaukee County’s real GDP grew 5.2% in 2021, reaching its highest level on record a year after the COVID-19 pandemic shrank Milwaukee County’s economy to its lowest level since 2009.
Seven of the eight counties in the southeastern Wisconsin region managed to exceed pre-pandemic GDP levels in 2021. The one exception was Ozaukee County. At $4.85 billion, its 2021 GDP remained below its 2019 level of $4.95 billion, measured in 2012 dollars. The county did see 1.5% growth from 2020 to 2021, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Kenosha County was the fastest growing in the region at 7%. The county, which has seen continued development of industrial and distribution projects actually saw GDP growth in 2020 after seeing a small dip in 2019.
Washington County was the second fastest growing county in the region last year with GDP growth at 6.4% and Walworth was third at 6.1%.
After Milwaukee County in fourth, Waukesha came in fifth at 4.8%. The county has the second largest economy in the region with $28.6 billion GDP compared to Milwaukee County’s $53.1 billion.
Combined, the WOW counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington had a real GDP of $39.7 billion. Kenosha, Racine and Walworth combine for an $18.6 billion real GDP.
Sheboygan County came in sixth with growth of 4%. Its real GDP is now at $6.47 billion.
Racine was seventh with 3.3% growth and a now $7.41 billion economy.
Nationally, Milwaukee County had the 67th highest real GDP in 2021. Those near it in size included Erie County in New York, Honolulu County in Hawaii and Lake County in Illinois, all slightly larger. Those immediately below Milwaukee are Jefferson County in Kentucky, Cobb County in Georgia, and Morris County in New Jersey.