With $1.64 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, Texas has the second largest state economy in the nation, and, if Texas were a country, it would rank tenth in the world, just ahead of Canada. Texans should have timely information about and a fundamental understanding of the state’s economy and the geographic patterns of the major sectors of its 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 main one is a point-and-click interface for counties and the ten largest cities that are not suburbs; and the other is a set of static maps with mainly linear features along with city and financial graphs and economic reports. The data span the years 2005 to 2018, and many of the county interactive maps have time sliders that allow for animation of the data through varying periods. Almost all the maps are original. The interactive maps and graphs can be exported into PNG and JPEG images and the data into spreadsheets. The 2016 graphs comparing selected economic indicators for the cities in a PDF file can also be downloaded. A Quick Start accompanies the atlas as well as a Texas Economic Timeline of major economic events in the state’s history.
The data for the 413 economic indicators used to display hundreds of interactive maps were obtained from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and its American Community Survey, 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 city graphs, which draw their data from the American Community Survey, offer another way to compare selected 2016 economic indicators for cities, while Internet links to reports about the Texas economy provide expert insights. And Internet links for the ten cities to Wikipedia furnish additional information about their economies.
Class intervals for all maps are defaulted to quintiles. Data divisions among class intervals are not shown but indicate the mid-points between class intervals (e.g. 2,300 in a class interval and 2,300 in an adjacent class interval is divided at 2,300.0005). Because the atlas data are discrete samples in time, users should understand that interpolations between data points in the Graph Panel displays are not accurate, and the lines produced show direction only. Data errors may exist in the Texas Economic Atlas maps. Errors may have occurred during the sampling, reporting, and mani-pulating for each of the economic indicators. We have worked assiduously to keep data acquisition, spreadsheet management, and mapping errors as few as possible.
Powered by the StatPlanet cloud program, the atlas’ large data sets are processed through Excel spreadsheets and geographic information systems (GIS) shapefiles. In other words, the time-consuming work of mining extensive data sets, manipulating the data for mapping, and constructing GIS data 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, as mentioned earlier, can be easily exported for statistical analysis via spreadsheets. The atlas is therefore a unique reference source for economic insights that will ideally assist Texas industries, businesses, state and city economic policymakers, researchers, university students, and the public in thinking about geospatial relationships of the mapped indicators and related variables that may lead to constructive research questions and subsequent strategy modifications.