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The Most Profitable Industry in Every U.S. State

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The Most Profitable Industry in Every U.S. State

The 11 Major Industries Leading America’s Exports

The Most Profitable Industry in Every U.S. State

A glance the leading industries in the U.S. reveals a few surprises – and less diversity than you might think.

Today’s graphic from HowMuch.net uses data from GO Banking Rates and the U.S. Census Bureau to map out the most profitable industry in each U.S. State.

A Unique State Identity

While each U.S. state is unique in its cultural identity, the lay of the land determines which industries will thrive. Where some regions are ideal for agriculture, others have built a strong foundation of industry and research, and still others have established themselves as tourism hubs.

Whatever industry has staked its claim in your particular state, it has a direct link to your state exports and local economy.

It’s important to note that the most profitable industry is not necessarily the biggest industry in each state. The following figures are based on the value of top-selling industry products in 2017, using Harmonized System (HS) codes and U.S. Census Bureau data.

Rounding out the top five:

  1. Texas – Abundant oil supply helped the Lone Star State bring in more than $73 billion from mineral products last year.
  2. Washington – Despite a 9% drop from the previous year, aerospace still pulled in $42 billion for Washington state in 2017.
  3. California – Machinery and mechanical appliances lead the Golden State, to the tune of $27 billion.
  4. New York – Diamonds are New York’s best friend, where the precious metals and stones industry earned more than $25 billion in export sales.
  5. Louisiana – Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes Louisiana a hub for mineral products, particularly oil. The industry raked in more than $23 billion in exports last year.

Diversify and Conquer

While some of these designations are nearly automatic – like fishing in Maine and Alaska – others are more surprising. Most surprising of all is the variety, or lack thereof: 50 states share a mere 11 major industries. When those industries are touched by market volatility or trade disruptions, it can prompt a ripple effect across several state economies.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each state’s major industry, and the value of top-selling products last year:

StateMost Profitable IndustryValue of industry's top-selling products (2017)
AlabamaAutomotive$8 billion
AlaskaFishing$2.359 billion
ArizonaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$4.27 billion
ArkansasAerospace$1.5 billion
CaliforniaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$27 billion
ColoradoMeat$1 billion
ConnecticutAerospace$5.627 billion
DelawareAutomotive$858 million
FloridaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$7.576 billion
GeorgiaAerospace$6.694 billion
HawaiiAerospace$370 million
IdahoMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.309 billion
IllinoisMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$5.7 billion
IndianaAutomotive$7.526 billion
IowaMeat$1.324 billion
KansasAerospace$2.565 billion
KentuckyAerospace$11.649 billion
LouisianaMineral Products$23 billion
MaineFishing$431 million
MarylandAerospace$814 million
MassachusettsPrecision Instruments$3.2 billion
MichiganAutomotive$22.735 billion
MinnesotaPrecision Instruments$2.417 billion
MississippiMineral Products$3.076 billion
MissouriAutomotive$2.234 billion
MontanaMineral Products$256 million
NebraskaMeat$1.52 billion
NevadaAccommodation and Food Services$20 billion
New HampshireMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.685 billion
New JerseyPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$2.624 billion
New MexicoMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.835 billion
New YorkPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$25 billion
North CarolinaMedical$3.698 billion
North DakotaMineral Products$1.814 billion
OhioAutomotive$6 billion
OklahomaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.1 billion
OregonMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$10.125 billion
PennsylvaniaMineral Products$3.672 billion
Rhode IslandPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$670 million
South CarolinaAutomotive$10.107 billion
South DakotaMeat$223 million
TennesseePrecision Instruments$3.425 billion
TexasMineral Products$73 billion
UtahPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$3.714 billion
VermontMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.6 billion
VirginiaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.5 billion
WashingtonAerospace$42.163 billion
West VirginiaMineral Products$3.261 billion
WisconsinMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1.538 billion
WyomingChemicals and Allied Industries$1.25 billion

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Demographics

Animated Map: The Comparative Might of Continents

We’ve come a long way since Pangea. This short video examines the area, population, and GDP of our continents as a share of the world’s total.

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Animated Map: The Comparative Might of Continents

We’ve come quite a long way since the time of Pangea. Today, the world’s continents are home to over 7.8 billion people, and each one is unique in its own way.

This video from the data visualization tool Vizzu compares the surface area, population, and GDP of the continents—all in terms of their contribution to the world’s total. Let’s dive further into the results of each category.

Click through to source to see the country breakdowns. Antarctica has been excluded from these calculations.

Surface Area: Does Size Matter?

When it comes to sheer land mass, Asia emerges on top with over one-third of the global surface area. On that front, it certainly has a little help from the combined forces of Russia and China, even as the former overlaps Eastern Europe as well.

RankRegionShare of Global Surface AreaLargest Country
#1Asia36.5%🇷🇺 Russia
#2Africa22.3%🇩🇿 Algeria
#3North America17.1%🇨🇦 Canada
#4South America13.2%🇧🇷 Brazil
#5Oceania6.4%🇦🇺 Australia
#6Europe4.6%🇷🇺 Russia

Africa comes in second, but doesn’t lag behind by much. A stone’s throw from Europe, Algeria is the largest country on the continent—and the 10th largest in the world.

Failing to grasp the true size of Africa is a common mental mistake, as many maps systematically underestimate its scale. The continent could easily fit the entirety of China, India, the U.S., and multiple European countries within its borders.

Population: Packing People Together

Another way to look at things is in terms of the number of inhabitants in each region. Asia is once again on top, with almost two-thirds of the world squeezed onto the continent.

RankRegionShare of Global PopulationMost Populous Country
#1Asia61.8%🇨🇳 China
#2Africa16.1%🇳🇬 Nigeria
#3Europe8.2%🇷🇺 Russia
#4North America7.7%🇺🇸 U.S.
#5South America5.6%🇧🇷 Brazil
#6Oceania0.5%🇦🇺 Australia

Asia’s lead in population is impressive, but it’s a margin that is unlikely to last forever.

By the year 2100—new estimates show the populations India and China could start to dip. Meanwhile Nigeria, which is already Africa’s most populous country with near 196 million people, could potentially quadruple in numbers in the same time frame.

In this metric, Europe also rises to third place. This is thanks again to the approximately 146 million people within Russia. However, if only the countries located completely within the continent are considered, Germany’s population of nearly 84 million would win out.

GDP: Emerging Wealth Overtakes

Finally, economic output—measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—is the most common way to assess the relative prosperity of countries and continents.

At this, the U.S. dominates with $21.4T according to the World Bank, though it swaps places with China which boasts $23.5T when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP).

RankRegionShare of Global GDPRichest Country (both nominal and PPP)
#1Asia36.9%🇨🇳 China
#2North America28.9%🇺🇸 U.S.
#3Europe23.9%🇩🇪 Germany
#4South America5.1%🇧🇷 Brazil
#5Africa3.1%🇳🇬 Nigeria
#6Oceania2.1%🇦🇺 Australia

Source: World Bank for both GDP Nominal and PPP, 2019.

Global wealth share drops sharply between Europe and South America, though it’s worth noting that rising inequality is also hidden under the surface within many high-income regions.

In terms of overall GDP, the Asian continent makes up the lion’s share. Asia is also home to many of the world’s emerging markets—which means there may be an even more pronounced shift of wealth towards the East in coming decades.

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Misc

3D Mapping The Largest Population Density Centers

What does population density look like on a global scale? These detailed 3D renders illustrate our biggest urban areas and highlight population trends.

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global population density map

A 3D Look at the Largest Population Density Centers

It can be difficult to comprehend the true sizes of megacities, or the global spread of nearly 7.8 billion people, but this series of population density maps makes the picture abundantly clear.

Created using the EU’s population density data and mapping tool Aerialod by Alasdair Rae, the 3D-rendered maps highlight demographic trends and geographic constraints.

Though they appear topographical and even resemble urban areas, the maps visualize population density in squares. The height of each bar represents the number of people living in that specific square, with the global map displaying 2km x 2km squares and subsequent maps displaying 1km x 1km squares.

Each region and country tells its own demographic story, but the largest population clusters are especially illuminating.

China vs U.S. — Clusters vs Sprawl

china taiwan density map

Click here to view the high resolution version.

Zooming into the most populated country in the world, China and its surrounding neighbors demonstrate massive clusters of urbanization.

Most people are familiar with the large density centers around Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, but the concentration in central China is surprising. The cities of Chengdu and Chonqing, in the Sichuan Basin, are part of a massive population center.

Interestingly, more than 93% of China’s population lives in the Eastern half of the country. It’s a similar story in neighboring South Korea and Taiwan, where the population is clustered along the west coasts.

united states density map

Click here to view the high resolution version.

The U.S. also has large population clusters along the coasts, but far more sprawl compared to its Asian counterparts. Though the Boston-Washington corridor is home to over 50 million residents, major centers spread out the population across the South and the Midwest.

Clearly visible are clusters in Florida (and not exclusively focused around Miami like some might believe), Illinois, Georgia, and Texas. The population is sparse in the West as expected, but California’s Los Angeles and Bay Area metros make up for the discrepancy and are just behind New York City’s density spikes in height.

India & Southeast Asia — Massive Density in Tight Areas

india pakistan density map

Click here to view the high resolution version.

At 1.38 billion people, India’s population is just behind China’s in terms of size. However, this sizable population fits into an area just one-third of China’s total land area, with the above map demonstrating what the same amount of people looks like in a smaller region.

On one hand, you still have clear clusters, such as in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangladesh’s Dhaka. On the other, there is a finite amount of room for a massive amount of people, so those density “spikes” are more like density “peaks” with the entire country covered in high density bars.

However, we can still see geographic trends. India’s population is more densely focused in the North before fading into the Himalayas. Bangladesh is equally if not more densely populated, with the exception of the protected Sundarbans mangrove forest along the coast. And Pakistan’s population seen in the distance is clustered along the Indus River.

south east asia density map

Click here to view the high resolution version.

Geographic constraints have always been the biggest deciding factor when it comes to population density, and nowhere is this more apparent than Southeast Asia.

Take Indonesia, the fourth largest country by population. Despite spanning across many islands, more than half of the country’s 269 million inhabitants are clustered on the single island of Java. The metros of Jakarta and Surabaya have experienced massive growth, but spreading that growth across oceans to entirely new islands (covered by rainforests) is a tall order.

When the distance is smaller, that cross-water growth is more likely to occur. Nearby in the Philippines, more than 100 million people have densely populated a series of islands no bigger than the state of Arizona.

Indeed, despite being one of the most populated areas in the world, each country in Southeast Asia has had its own growing problems. Some are limited by space (Singapore, Philippines), while others are limited by forests (Thailand, Vietnam).

A World of Different Density Pictures

Though the above maps cover the five most populated countries on Earth, accounting for nearly half of the world’s population, they only show a small part of the global picture.

As the full global density map at the top of the page highlights, the population patterns can accurately illustrate some geographic patterns and constraints, while others need further exploration. For example, the map clearly gives an outline of Africa and the sparse area that makes up the Sahara Desert. At the same time, landmasses like Australia and New Zealand are almost invisible save for a few clusters along the coast.

To get a closer and more intricate picture of each country’s density map, head to Alasdair Rae’s long thread of rendered maps and start scrolling up to find yours!

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