Mapped: The Top U.S. Exports by State
The U.S. exported over $1.3 trillion in goods in 2020, the second-highest amount worldwide.
While refined petroleum was the top export overall at $58.4 billion, aircraft exports were actually the highest across 14 states—more than any other form of export.
This infographic from OnDeck shows America’s top exports by state, using January 2022 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
America’s Top Exports, by Category
As shown below, Florida, Kansas, and numerous other states all have aircraft (and related parts) as their top export.
Here is the top export category for each state, using 2020 figures.
|South Dakota||Brewing Dregs|
|New Mexico||Data Processing Parts|
|North Dakota||Light Oils|
|Rhode Island||Precious Metal|
|North Carolina||Vaccines and Antibodies|
While the vast majority of the aerospace and defense industry consists of civil aerospace exports, America has also played a significant role in exports of military aircraft. Between 2000-2020, these were worth $99.6 billion, the highest in the world ahead of Russia’s $61.5 billion in military exports. This becomes less surprising when you consider that a new fighter jet can often come with a $100 million price tag.
But there were many different, and more interesting, exports. South Dakota’s top export is none other than brewing dregs, which is the sediment found in brewing beer. The largest importers of these dregs are Mexico, Vietnam, and South Korea. Often, dregs are sold to farmers for use in animal feed.
Meanwhile, the top export for Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois is medicine, while North Carolina has vaccines and antibodies as a top export. In 2020, the U.S. exported over $46 billion in goods critical to combating COVID-19, the second-highest after China ($105 billion).
As the largest exporter of oil in America, Texas produces over 5 million barrels of oil each day, or 1.7 billion annually. Mississippi’s top export was also petroleum, while light oil was the top export in Minnesota and North Dakota. Overall, oil makes up roughly 10% of U.S. exports annually.
The Most Unique Exports, by State
While oil, medicine, and aircraft are the usual suspects for America’s top exports, here are the most idiosyncratic exports for each state. These are defined as those which are exported by the smallest number of other states.
Arkansas is the top exporter of rice in America, with the industry valued at $722 million. The rice industry in Arkansas began to grow substantially in the early 1900s, and expanded even more rapidly during World War I & II.
New York, on the other hand, exports more sculptures than any other state thanks to being the epicenter of the art world. The U.S. exported over $12 billion in art and antiques in 2019.
Lobster is the most unique export in Maine, known for its characteristically large claws. The north coast of Maine offers cool waters which lend themselves to more tender and sweeter lobster fare.
Finally, Massachusetts exports quahog pearls, known for their uneven texture and mosaic pattern, found across Cape Cod.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Recession Risk: Which Sectors are Least Vulnerable?
We show the sectors with the lowest exposure to recession risk—and the factors that drive their performance.
Recession Risk: Which Sectors are Least Vulnerable?
In the context of a potential recession, some sectors may be in better shape than others.
They share several fundamental qualities, including:
- Less cyclical exposure
- Lower rate sensitivity
- Higher cash levels
- Lower capital expenditures
With this in mind, the above chart looks at the sectors most resilient to recession risk and rising costs, using data from Allianz Trade.
Recession Risk, by Sector
As slower growth and rising rates put pressure on corporate margins and the cost of capital, we can see in the table below that this has impacted some sectors more than others in the last year:
|Sector||Margin (p.p. change)
|🏡 Household Equipment||-0.9|
|🚗 Automotive Manufacturers||-1.1|
|🏭 Machinery & Equipment||-1.1|
|🖥️ Computers & Telecom||-2.0|
*Percentage point changes 2021- 2022.
Generally speaking, the retail sector has been shielded from recession risk and higher prices. In 2023, accelerated consumer spending and a strong labor market has supported retail sales, which have trended higher since 2021. Consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
Sectors including chemicals and pharmaceuticals have traditionally been more resistant to market turbulence, but have fared worse than others more recently.
In theory, sectors including construction, metals, and automotives are often rate-sensitive and have high capital expenditures. Yet, what we have seen in the last year is that many of these sectors have been able to withstand margin pressures fairly well in spite of tightening credit conditions as seen in the table above.
What to Watch: Corporate Margins in Perspective
One salient feature of the current market environment is that corporate profit margins have approached historic highs.
As the above chart shows, after-tax profit margins for non-financial corporations hovered over 14% in 2022, the highest post-WWII. In fact, this trend has been increasing over the past two decades.
According to a recent paper, firms have used their market power to increase prices. As a result, this offset margin pressures, even as sales volume declined.
Overall, we can see that corporate profit margins are higher than pre-pandemic levels. Sectors focused on essential goods to the consumer were able to make price hikes as consumers purchased familiar brands and products.
Adding to stronger margins were demand shocks that stemmed from supply chain disruptions. The auto sector, for example, saw companies raise prices without the fear of diminishing market share. All of these factors have likely built up a buffer to help reduce future recession risk.
Sector Fundamentals Looking Ahead
How are corporate metrics looking in 2023?
In the first quarter of 2023, S&P 500 earnings fell almost 4%. It was the second consecutive quarter of declining earnings for the index. Despite slower growth, the S&P 500 is up roughly 15% from lows seen in October.
Yet according to an April survey from the Bank of America, global fund managers are overwhelmingly bearish, highlighting contradictions in the market.
For health care and utilities sectors, the vast majority of companies in the index are beating revenue estimates in 2023. Over the last 30 years, these defensive sectors have also tended to outperform other sectors during a downturn, along with consumer staples. Investors seek them out due to their strong balance sheets and profitability during market stress.
|S&P 500 Sector||Percent of Companies With Revenues Above Estimates (Q1 2023)|
|Real Estate ||81%|
Cyclical sectors, such as financials and industrials tend to perform worse. We can see this today with turmoil in the banking system, as bank stocks remain sensitive to interest rate hikes. Making matters worse, the spillover from rising rates may still take time to materialize.
Defensive sectors like health care, staples, and utilities could be less vulnerable to recession risk. Lower correlation to economic cycles, lower rate-sensitivity, higher cash buffers, and lower capital expenditures are all key factors that support their resilience.
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