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 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:
- 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|
Mapped: European Colonial Shipping Lanes (1700‒1850)
This map plots the colonial shipping lanes used by the British, the French, the Spanish, and the Dutch in the 18th and 19th centuries.
European Colonial Shipping Lanes (1700‒1850)
Every year, thousands of ships ferry passengers and transport goods across the world’s oceans and seas.
200 years ago, the ships navigating these waters looked very different. Explorers and traders sailed from coast to coast to expand colonial empires, find personal riches, or both.
Before modern technology simplified bookkeeping, many ships kept detailed logbooks to navigate, tracking the winds, waves, and any remarkable weather. Recently, these handwritten logbooks were fully digitized into the CLIWOC database as part of a UN-funded project by the University of Madrid.
In this graphic, Adam Symington uses this database to visualize the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch shipping routes between 1700 and 1850.
Colonial Shipping Lanes
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch empires dominated global trade through their colonial shipping lanes.
All four nations sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with some frequency over that timeframe, but these fleets were also very active in the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well.
The table below reflects the record of days spent by digitized logbooks from each nation.
|Country||N. Atlantic||S. Atlantic||Indian Ocean||Pacific||All Oceans|
Does this mean that the Netherlands had the widest colonial reach at the time? Not at all, as researchers noted that there were thousands of logbooks from each country that weren’t able to be digitized, and thousands more that were lost to time. The days simply reflect the amount of data that was available to examine from each country.
But they can still give us an accurate look at critical shipping routes between European countries, their trade partners, and their colonies and territories.
Let’s now take a closer look at the colonial powers and their preferred routes.
The British shipping map shows a steady presence across the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. They utilized many of Europe’s ports for ease of trade, with strong pre-independence connections to the U.S., Canada, and India.
One of the most frequented shipping routes on the map seen is a triangular trade route that enabled the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This route facilitated the transportation of slaves from Africa to the Americas, raw materials such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton from the American colonies to Europe, and arms, textiles, and wine from Europe to the colonies.
During this period, Spanish maritime trade with its colonies was an essential economic component of the Kingdom of Spain (as with other colonial empires).
We can see the largest concentration of Spanish ships around Central and South America leading up to the Spanish American wars of independence, as those colonies were especially important suppliers of raw materials such as gold, silver, sugar, tobacco, and cotton. There are some lanes visible to Pacific colonies like the Philippines.
Of the four empires, France’s maritime logbooks were the most sparse. The records that were digitized show frequent travel and trade across the North Atlantic Ocean to Canada and the Caribbean.
The French empire at the time included colonies in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and West Africa. Their trade routes were used to transport goods like sugar, coffee, rum, and spices, while also relying on the slave trade to maintain plantation economies. The French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) was one of the world’s wealthiest colonies in the late 18th century.
Dutch shipping routes from the time had the most detail and breadth of any country, reflective of the Dutch East India Trading Company’s position as the world’s dominant company and trade force.
These include massive traffic to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Cape Colony (now South Africa), and the Guianas in South America.
Interestingly, researchers from Leiden University found that the Dutch empire was a “string of pearls” consisting mostly of strategic trading hubs stretched along the edges of the continents and focused on maritime power.
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