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Economic Atlas Introduction

With $1.64 billion of economic output in 2017, Texas has the second largest state economy in the nation and would be ranked tenth in the world, just ahead of Canada, if Texas were a country. Texans should have timely information about and a fundamental understanding of the state’s economy and the geographic patterns of the major sectors of the economy. The interactive, cloud-based Texas Economic Atlas, the fifth work in the Texas Atlas Collection, empowers Texans to reach these essential objectives in the early decades of the 21st century.

The Texas Economic Atlas, the first of its kind, promotes evidence-based decision making through: (1) interactive visualizations, (2) a straightforward point-and-click interface for non-technical users, and (3) a cloud-based system that enables industries, businesses, government agencies, researchers, students, and the general public the ability to explore quickly a myriad of data about the Texas economy. The atlas is organized into two mapping divisions—the larger one is interactive and the other is a static set of maps with mainly linear features along with graphs and economic reports. The data span the years 2005 to 2018, and many of the interactive maps have a time slider that allows for animation of the data through the periods. Almost all of the maps are original. The maps and accompanying graphs can be exported. A User Guide accompanies the atlas as well as a Texas Economic Timeline of major economic events in the state’s history.

The interactive maps allow the visualizing and analyzing discrete data for the entire state and the ten largest cities that are not suburbs of larger cities. The data for the 418 economic indicators are from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, American Association of Port Authorities, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Water Development Board, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Railroad Commission, Texas Natural Resources Information System, Texas A&M Forestry Service, and Environmental Systems Research Institute.

The graphs in the atlas offer another way to examine selected data for 2015, while Internet links to reports about the Texas economy provide expert insights for selected years. And Internet links for the ten cities to Wikipedia offer additional information about their economies.

Powered by the StatPlanet cloud program, the atlas’ large data sets are processed through Excel spreadsheets and geographic information systems (GIS) shape files. In other words, the time-consuming work of mining extensive data sets, manipulating the data for mapping, and constructing GIS layers have been completed for the atlas users. The speed of users’ computer processors and Internet connections will affect the performance of the atlas functions.

Other than the visual associations among economic indicators and their relationships through time, the Texas Economic Atlas does not offer any explanations for the mapped data. The data, however, can be easily exported for statistical analysis via spreadsheets. The atlas is therefore a reference source for economic insights that will ideally assist Texas industries, businesses, state and city economic policymakers, researchers, university students, and the general public in thinking about geospatial relationships of the mapped indicators and related variables that may lead to constructive research questions and subsequent strategy modifications.