With its oil refineries, Houston is the first of the outperformers. With a population ranking at 5th largest in the country, it ranks 4th in GDP production. The huge wealth produced by Silicon Valley also shows up in how San Francisco and especially San Jose rank economically higher than their population size. The same holds true for the Seattle metro home to Microsoft. Charlotte and Indianapolis also pull more economic weight than other, larger metro areas.
There are some 'slackers' too. While Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario ranks as the 12th largest metro area in the US population-wise, its GDP ranking is only 26. Similarly, Orlando, Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Nashville all rank in the top 27 largest metros in terms of population but do not rank in the top 27 metros in GDP rank.