Image courtesy of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation
Image courtesy of BMW Manufacturing News Center
Policy Analysis | September 2015

Manufacturing Products Top SLC State Exports in 2014

Sujit CanagaRetna

"U.S. businesses exported $2.35 trillion of our goods and services in 2014, hitting a record high for the fifth straight year. Exports support 11.3 million American jobs, and contributed one-third of our annual growth between 2009 and 2013."

‐ Penny Pritzker, Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce

Exports from the United States continue to power ahead and, in 2014, they registered a record high for the fifth consecutive year, $2.35 trillion in goods and services to be exact.¥ U.S. exports hit records in a number of categories including capital goods; consumer goods; petroleum products; foods, feeds and beverages; and automotive vehicles and parts. Importantly, reflecting the composition of the U.S. economy, services exports recorded an all-time high of $710.3 billion in 2014, led by travel and transport; charges for the use of intellectual property; and financial services. As noted by Secretary Pritzker, the critical role played by the export sector in generating millions of jobs for Americans cannot be overemphasized, along with the role played by the export sector in promoting economic growth across the country.

Given that these exports of goods and services flow from the 50 states, it is useful to examine what sort of goods and services are being exported by the different states. On certain occasions, a state's top export commodity might elicit surprise while in others it remains what was expected. An important consideration here is that the definition for a state's export is not whether the item was actually produced in that state but whether it is the last place where it was packaged before it left the shores of the United States. For instance, Hawaii generally is not known as an energy producing state but, in 2014, the state exported more than $560 million (nearly 40 percent of total exports) in petroleum products; this is because Hawaii was the last port of call for an array of petroleum products before they were shipped out to another country. Similarly, Massachusetts is a state known for a number of fine and highly reputed universities and academic institutions specializing in, among other fields, the medical and technology sectors. However, in 2014, the state's most important export item was gold. During the year, Massachusetts, by virtue of being home to a major gold refinery, shipped nearly $2 billion in gold to a number of countries, including the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Along those lines, Florida's citrus industry contributes more than $5 billion to the state's gross state product (GSP). However, oranges do not rank in the top 20 of Florida's exports because the industry is geared toward consumption within Florida and other parts of the United States. Another example relates to one of Montana's chief exports (coal) to its major market, Canada. However, the final destination of most of this coal is not for use in Canada but to countries in Asia; Montana's coal is processed in Canada and then shipped to Asia.

The following provides details on the major exports from states belonging to The Council of State Governments' (CSG) Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC). Alongside details on the top export, information on the value of these exports, percent change in this export between 2013 and 2014, and the percent of this export as a share of the state's total exports are provided.

Alabama

Largest export Cars and passenger vehicles
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $6.64 billion
Percent change in cars and passenger vehicles export value (2013-2014) 2.8%
Cars and passenger vehicles as share of total state exports 34.0%

Arkansas

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $1.63 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) -11.7%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 23.7%

Florida

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $4.78 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) 0.3%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 8.2%

Georgia

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $6.90 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) 6.6%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 17.5%

Kentucky

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $7.73 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) 37.5%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 28.1%

Louisiana

Largest export Petroleum
2014 petroleum value $24.99 billion
Percent change in petroleum export value (2013-2014) -0.7%
Petroleum as share of total state exports 38.4%

Mississippi

Largest export Petroleum
2014 petroleum value $3.84 billion
Percent change in petroleum export value (2013-2014) -8.7%
Petroleum as share of total state exports 33.6%

Missouri

Largest export Commercial vehicle parts
2014 commercial vehicle parts value $1.44 billion
Percent change in commercial vehicle parts export value (2013-2014) 13.5%
Commercial vehicle parts as share of total state exports 10.2%

North Carolina

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $1.41 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) 33.2%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 4.5%

Oklahoma

Largest export Aircraft and aircraft parts
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $0.38 billion
Percent change in aircraft and aircraft parts export value (2013-2014) -35.4%
Aircraft and aircraft parts as share of total state exports 6.1%

South Carolina

Largest export Cars and passenger vehicles
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $9.11 billion
Percent change in cars and passenger vehicles export value (2013-2014) 20.9%
Cars and passenger vehicles as share of total state exports 30.7%

Tennessee

Largest export Cars and passenger vehicles
2014 cars and passenger vehicles value $2.64 billion
Percent change in cars and passenger vehicles export value (2013-2014) 23.8%
Cars and passenger vehicles as share of total state exports 8.0%

Texas

Largest export Petroleum
2014 petroleum value $64.15 billion
Percent change in petroleum export value (2013-2014) 7.0%
Petroleum as share of total state exports 22.2%

Virginia

Largest export Soybeans
2014 soybeans value $0.79 billion
Percent change in soybeans export value (2013-2014) 9.3%
Soybeans as share of total state exports 4.1%

West Virginia

Largest export Coal
2014 coal value $3.11 billion
Percent change in coal export value (2013-2014) -31.5%
Coal as share of total state exports 41.5%

Information on the top 2014 exports from these SLC states might be a great surprise given the perception that the Southern region is dominated by the agriculture and food processing (poultry and hogs, for instance) sectors. While these sectors are unquestionably of tremendous importance and play a critical role in promoting economic growth in these individual state economies, their top export products might defy expectations. For instance, the fact that in six of the 15 SLC states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma) aircraft and aircraft parts were the number one export will be of great interest. The growing importance of the aeronautics sector to Southern state economies was explored in great length in a February 2014 SLC publication Aeronautics in the SLC States: Cleared for Takeoff. Similarly, readers might be surprised that in four of 15 SLC states (Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee) cars, passenger vehicles and vehicle parts were the top exports during the review period. Once again, the increasing importance of the automobile sector in the entire Southern region is a theme that has been explored by the SLC in multiple forums for over a decade with the most recent publication involving a July 2015 report The Drive to Move South Advances: Automakers Revitalize the U.S. and Southern Economies. For the remaining five SLC states, petroleum products were the most important in three (Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) with soybeans (Virginia) and coal (West Virginia) rising to the top in the remaining two states.


¥ Information related to overall U.S. exports is based on "U.S. Exports Hit Record High for the Fifth Straight Year," https://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2015/02/us-exports-hit-record-high-fifth-straight-year.
Information related to the top selling export from the states is extracted from "Top Selling Products From Each State - 24/7 Wall Street," http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/09/01/top-selling-products-from-each-state/#ixzz3lGXWnn00