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The Most Profitable Industry in Every U.S. State



The Most Profitable Industry in Every U.S. State

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 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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United States

Mapped: How Much Does it Take to be the Top 1% in Each U.S. State?

An annual income anywhere between $360,000-$950,000 can grant entry into the top 1%—depending on where you live in America.



A cropped map of the U.S. listing the annual income needed to be in the top 1% in each state.

How Much Does it Take to be the Top 1% in Each U.S. State?

There’s an old saying: everyone thinks that they’re middle-class.

But how many people think, or know, that they really belong to the top 1% in the country?

Data from personal finance advisory services company, SmartAsset, reveals the annual income threshold at which a household can be considered part of the top 1% in their state.

Some states demand a much higher yearly earnings from their residents to be a part of the rarefied league, but which ones are they, and how much does one need to earn to make it to the very top echelon of income?

Ranking U.S. States By Income to Be in the Top 1%

At the top of the list, a household in Connecticut needs to earn nearly $953,000 annually to be part of the one-percenters. This is the highest minimum threshold across the country.

In the same region, Massachusetts requires a minimum annual earnings of $903,401 from its top 1% residents.

Here’s the list of all 50 U.S. states along with the annual income needed to be in the 1%.

RankStateTop 1% Income
Top 1% Tax Rate
(% of annual income)
4New Jersey$817,34628.01%
6New York$776,66228.29%
10New Hampshire$659,03726.25%
N/ANational Average$652,657N/A
18South Dakota$590,37322.99%
20North Dakota$585,55624.76%
25North Carolina$559,76225.31%
28Rhode Island$548,53125.26%
35South Carolina$508,42724.40%
48New Mexico$411,39523.35%
50West Virginia$367,58223.26%
N/ANational Median
Household Income

California ($844,266), New Jersey ($817,346), and Washington ($804,853) round out the top five states with the highest minimum thresholds to make it to their exclusive rich club.

On the other end of the spectrum, the top one-percenters in West Virginia make a minimum of $367,582 a year, the lowest of all the states, and about one-third of the threshold in Connecticut. And just down southwest of the Mountain State, Mississippi’s one-percenters need to make at least $381,919 a year to qualify for the 1%.

A quick glance at the map above also reveals some regional insights.

The Northeast and West Coast, with their large urban and economic hubs, have higher income entry requirements for the top 1% than states in the American South.

This also correlates to the median income by state, a measure showing Massachusetts households make nearly $90,000 a year, compared to Mississippians who take home $49,000 annually.

How Much Do the Top 1% Pay in Taxes?

Meanwhile, if one does make it to the top 1% in states like Connecticut and Massachusetts, expect to pay more in taxes than other states, according to SmartAsset’s analysis.

A chart showing how states with the top highest and lowest average tax rates for their top 1% residents.

The one-percenters in the top five states pay, on average, between 26–28% of their income in tax, compared to those in the bottom five who pay between 21–23%.

And this pattern exists through the dataset, with higher top 1% income thresholds correlating with higher average tax rates for the wealthy.

State RanksMedian Tax Rate
Top 1026.65%

These higher tax rates point to attempts to reign in the increasing wealth disparity in the nation where the top 1% hold more than one-third of the country’s wealth, up from 27% in 1989.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: SmartAsset’s America’s Top 1% Is Different in Each State uses data from 2020 individual tax filings from the IRS, adjusted to 2023 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.

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