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.
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:
- Texas – Abundant oil supply helped the Lone Star State bring in more than $73 billion from mineral products last year.
- Washington – Despite a 9% drop from the previous year, aerospace still pulled in $42 billion for Washington state in 2017.
- California – Machinery and mechanical appliances lead the Golden State, to the tune of $27 billion.
- New York – Diamonds are New York’s best friend, where the precious metals and stones industry earned more than $25 billion in export sales.
- 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:
|State||Most Profitable Industry||Value of industry's top-selling products (2017)|
|Arizona||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$4.27 billion|
|California||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$27 billion|
|Florida||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$7.576 billion|
|Idaho||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.309 billion|
|Illinois||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$5.7 billion|
|Louisiana||Mineral Products||$23 billion|
|Massachusetts||Precision Instruments||$3.2 billion|
|Minnesota||Precision Instruments||$2.417 billion|
|Mississippi||Mineral Products||$3.076 billion|
|Montana||Mineral Products||$256 million|
|Nevada||Accommodation and Food Services||$20 billion|
|New Hampshire||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.685 billion|
|New Jersey||Precious Metals, Stones, etc.||$2.624 billion|
|New Mexico||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.835 billion|
|New York||Precious Metals, Stones, etc.||$25 billion|
|North Carolina||Medical||$3.698 billion|
|North Dakota||Mineral Products||$1.814 billion|
|Oklahoma||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.1 billion|
|Oregon||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$10.125 billion|
|Pennsylvania||Mineral Products||$3.672 billion|
|Rhode Island||Precious Metals, Stones, etc.||$670 million|
|South Carolina||Automotive||$10.107 billion|
|South Dakota||Meat||$223 million|
|Tennessee||Precision Instruments||$3.425 billion|
|Texas||Mineral Products||$73 billion|
|Utah||Precious Metals, Stones, etc.||$3.714 billion|
|Vermont||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.6 billion|
|Virginia||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.5 billion|
|West Virginia||Mineral Products||$3.261 billion|
|Wisconsin||Machinery and Mechanical Appliances||$1.538 billion|
|Wyoming||Chemicals and Allied Industries||$1.25 billion|
Visualizing the True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest
Maps can distort the size and shape of countries. This visualization puts the true size of land masses together from biggest to smallest.
The True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest
Is Greenland the size of the entire African continent?
But looking at a map based on the Mercator projection, you would think so.
Today’s infographic comes from the design studio Art.Lebedev and shows the true size of the world’s land masses in order from largest to smallest using data from NASA and Google.
Check out the actual shape and size of each land mass without any distortions.
Distorting Reality: Mercator Misconceptions
Maps can deceive your eyes but they are still powerful tools for specific purposes. In 1569, the legendary cartographer, Gerardus Mercator, created a new map based on a cylindrical projection of sections of the Earth. These types of maps were suited for nautical navigation since every line on the sphere is a constant course, or loxodrome.
Despite the map’s nautical utility, the Mercator projection has an unwanted downside. The map type increases the sizes of land masses close to the poles (such as in North America, Europe, or North Asia) as a side effect. As a result, Canada and Russia appear to take up approximately 25% of the Earth’s surface, when in reality these nations only occupy 5%.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – Phaedrus
This collection of images above represents the world’s land masses in their correct proportions. Measurements are based on Google Maps 2016 and NASA Earth Observatory maps, with calculations based on the WGS84 reference ellipsoid, or more simply, a specific model of the Earth’s shape in two dimensions.
We take for granted Google Maps and satellite imaging. Making these accurate representations is no small task – the designers went through six steps and many different iterations of the graphic.
Countries are arranged by descending size and shown without external or dependent territories. For example, the total area for the contiguous United States shown does not include Hawaii, Alaska, or overseas territories.
Top 10 Largest Land Masses
Although Mercator maps distort the size of land masses in the Northern Hemisphere, many of these countries still cover massive territories.
|United States (contiguous)||7,654,643|
The top 10 land masses by size account for 55% of the Earth’s total land. The remainder is split by the world’s 195 or so other countries.
Top 10 Smallest Land Masses
Here are the 10 tiniest jurisdictions highlighted on the map:
While the Earth’s land surface has been claimed by many authorities, the actual impact of human activity is less than one would think.
Human Impact: Humbled by Nature
Political borders have claimed virtually every piece of land available. Despite this, only 20% of land on the planet has been visibly impacted by human activity, and only 15% of Earth’s land surface is formally under protection.
The remaining 80% of the land hosts natural ecosystems that help to purify air and water, recycle nutrients, enhance soil fertility, pollinate plants, and break down waste products. The value of maintaining these services to the human economy is worth trillions of U.S. dollars each year.
While some nations are not as big as they look on the map, every piece of land counts.
Mapping Civil Unrest in the United States (2000–2020)
This map of civil unrest in the United States helps provide much needed context on how individual events fit within the nation-wide pattern over time.
Mapping Civil Unrest in the United States (2000–2020)
See a static version of these maps by clicking here.
Protests are a regular feature of democratic society, but they can occasionally cross over from non-violent demonstrations into civil unrest. Even protests that are largely peaceful can still result in arrests, violence, police aggression, and property damage.
Our animated map above looks at the last two decades of civil unrest in the United States using lists compiled on Wikipedia.
Instances of civil unrest eventually leave the news cycle, and we rarely have the chance to examine the bigger picture or see where they fit within a nation-wide pattern.
From this map we can see that certain cities, such as St. Louis and Oakland, have been disproportionately impacted by civil unrest. As well, universities have also been hotspots for rioting, though often for much different reasons.
Looking back over two decades, we see that instances of civil unrest in the United States have fallen into roughly four categories:
- Economic and social injustice
- Sports and event related riots
- Politically motivated civil unrest
- Reaction to police actions
Let’s take a look at a prominent example in each of these categories, to get further context.
Examples of Civil Unrest, by Category
1. Economic and Social Justice
One of the most prominent examples in this category is the Occupy Wall Street movement. The protests began in September 2011 in Downtown Manhattan, and soon spread through cities throughout the world.
In 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests grabbed headlines around the world as protesters faced off against armed soldiers and police with riot gear and military equipment. By the time camps were broken up the next year, hundreds of people had been arrested.
2. Sports and Event Related Riots
Between 2000 and 2010, the majority of incidents plotted on the map are related to sports and events. This includes major sporting events like the L.A. Lakers championship win in 2000, but also the University of Maryland riot of 2004, where rowdy post-game celebrations crossed over into arson and property damage.
A more recent example is the Philadelphia Eagles’ first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2018, where celebrations eventually got out of hand.
3. Politically Motivated Civil Unrest
The political divide has been growing in America for years now, but those differences more frequently resulted in confrontations and civil unrest in 2016. After the election of Donald Trump, for example, protests erupted in many cities, with riots breaking out in Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California.
Of course, the “Bundy standoff” – an armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and law enforcement over withheld grazing fees – showed that not all civil unrest takes place in America’s cities.
4. Reaction to Police Actions
Some of the biggest flashpoints seen in recent years have been in response to people who were killed by police.
In fact, more than half of the points on our map were a direct response to incidents in which a person – typically a black male – died at the hands of law enforcement officials. In previous years, the unrest that followed was typically confined to the cities where the death took place, but protests are now increasingly erupting in cities around the country.
The Situation Now
The death of George Floyd – the latest black male to be killed during an encounter with law enforcement – has had a ripple effect, spawning protests in cities around the United States and internationally.
As our map showing the history of civil unrest makes clear, excessive force from police against black citizens is nothing new. The data shows that black men have by far the highest risk of being killed in an encounter with law enforcement.
Until these systemic issues are addressed, history may not be repeat exactly, but the rhyme will sound very, very familiar.
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