Policy Analysis | February 2013

Exports Continue to Surge in 2012, SLC State Exports Continue to Secure Impressive Growth Rates

Sujit CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst

The U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration released its 2012 export tally and a quick review of the data indicates that the states belonging to the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), continues to expand at impressive rates. Specifically, in 2012, U.S. goods exports* reached an all-time high of $1.54 trillion, an improvement of 4 percent over the $1.48 trillion secured in 2011. Texas was the nation's top goods exporter in 2012 and shipped out a staggering $265 billion to all corners of the globe. The Lone Star state's 2012 export tally clearly surpassed the next highest state (California with $162 billion in exports) and cemented its reputation as the nation's top exporter in each of the last five years. Another SLC state, Arkansas, was the state with the second-highest rate of goods export growth in the nation in 2012, 36 percent, an expansion rate only exceeded by New Mexico (42 percent). Arkansas' $7.6 billion in goods exports in 2012 was striking compared to the state's $5.6 billion achieved in the prior year. A review of state goods export data over the 2008-2012, five-year period established yet another SLC state (West Virginia) as the national leader. Not only did the Mountain State secure a stunning 101 percent increase in goods exports between 2008 and 2012 ($5.6 billion to $11.4 billion), West Virginia also increased its exports by 26 percent between 2011 and 2012, the fourth highest rate in the country. West Virginia was the only state that secured a triple-digit export increase between 2008 and 2012, a further reflection of the state's strong commitment to export promotion.

In a reflection of the growing influence of the service sector in the U.S. economy, a review of the export of services** in 2012 reflects notable trends. In 2012, services exports totaled $632 billion, an expansion of over $26 billion from 2011. With regard to U.S. services exports, increases were reached in travel and other private services, which include items such as business, professional, and technical services, insurance services, and financial services. When U.S. goods and services exports in 2012 are combined, the nation set another export record, soaring to $2.2 trillion and eclipsing the 2011 combined total by nearly $93 billion.

A quick review of national export trends between 2008 and 2012 reflect that while U.S. exports have performed admirably relative to the lean years of the Great Recession, the lagging economic performance of the Eurozone countries and the sluggishness in economic performance in a number of Asian and Latin American countries in the second half of 2012 did adversely impact U.S. export performance. In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, U.S. goods exports slumped to $1 trillion (from $1.3 trillion in 2008) even though export levels picked up in each of the subsequent years. Another significant accomplishment as a result of the nation's strong export performance was a reduction in the nation's trade deficit: in 2012, the U.S. trade deficit improved by nearly $20 billion, from the $560 billion recorded in 2011, and considerably below the pre-recession high of $753 billion recorded in 2006. The major impetus for this reduction in the trade deficit was the record surplus in services trade in 2012, totaling $195 billion, up over 9 percent from the $179 billion surplus in 2011.

Exports often are listed as one of the bright sparks of the contemporary American economy, and the role played by exports in advancing U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) has been noteworthy in recent years. In 2012, exports as a share of U.S. GDP held steady from the record of 13.9 percent recorded in 2011, and up from the 12.9 percent recorded in 2008. As exports did in 2011, they contributed to a greater proportion of GDP than gross private domestic investment in 2012.

The top four U.S. export markets in 2012 were Canada ($292 billion), Mexico ($216 billion), China ($111 billion) and Japan ($70 billion). Not only were these U.S. export amounts at the highest levels ever, record export levels also were shipped to the new and emerging markets of Brazil, India, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam. The latter countries are priority markets under the U.S. Commerce Department's National Export Initiative (NEI). In terms of the nation's top export items, an interesting development involves the emergence of manufactured items as an important component of overall exports. For instance, transportation equipment; computer and electronic products; chemicals; machinery (except electrical); primary metal manufacturing; miscellaneous manufactured commodities; food manufactures; and electrical equipment (appliances and components) all ranked in the top 10 category. Two other major export items included petroleum and coal products and agricultural products.

In terms of the U.S. manufactured goods exports in 2012, they amounted to an overwhelming $1.35 trillion in 2012, an expansion of 5.5 percent from 2011. More importantly, the manufacturing sector has added roughly half a million jobs over the last three years, the most for any such period since 1996. Among the most critical manufacturing sectors for U.S. exports involves motor vehicles and parts, and exports of these items burgeoned to nearly $133 billion in 2012, a stunning increase of more than 10 percent compared to 2011.

States are quickly realizing the huge economic potential of an export-influenced economic strategy and are increasingly relying on exports to drive economic growth. For instance, Tennessee industries export more than $31 billion worth of products annually, and state officials announced in February 2013 that Tennessee plans to open four offices abroad to help promote the state's export business in China, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom. Not only was this first time in more than 15 years that the state has inaugurated foreign offices "solely dedicated to advancing Tennessee exports," in the past decade, the state has tripled its exports and added more than 6,400 Tennessee businesses and generated 80,000 jobs. In 2012, Tennessee was the nation's 14th-largest exporting state. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam noted that "[A]lmost 20 percent of all Tennessee workers depend on the manufacture and sale of exported goods for their jobs. "Tennessee-made goods are known the world over for their quality and dependability, and a new export strategy will continue to help us meet our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs."

During the 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that his administration would seek to double U.S. exports in five years and generate 2 million export-related jobs. While there are certainly economic headwinds in parts of the globe that might delay the targeted date for this objective, many states across the country have made impressive strides towards this goal. The resurgence in the manufacturing sector in the United States will go a long way towards expanding U.S. exports and producing high-wage, high-tech jobs in different parts of the country.

2012 Total All Merchandise Exports to World

State 2008 2009 % 2010 % 2011 % 2012 % 2008 - 2012 %
Virgin Islands 2,747,339,175 1,217,003,134 -56% 1,898,505,274 56% 2,315,770,889 22% 870,435,049 -62% -68%
Hawaii 959,607,734 563,059,688 -41% 684,045,484 21% 884,069,629 29% 726,228,639 -18% -24%
Massachusetts 28,369,195,305 23,593,277,279 -17% 26,303,601,826 11% 27,761,320,278 6% 25,549,264,319 -8% -10%
Arizona 19,784,243,422 14,023,462,270 -29% 15,635,757,846 11% 17,793,213,040 14% 18,356,620,302 3% -7%
New Hampshire 3,752,476,603 3,060,715,994 -18% 4,367,331,611 43% 4,297,163,753 -2% 3,485,311,266 -19% -7%
Kansas 12,513,976,006 8,916,920,376 -29% 9,905,219,429 11% 11,598,460,663 17% 11,659,454,239 1% -7%
Puerto Rico 19,961,283,553 20,937,064,690 5% 22,784,088,942 9% 18,200,275,820 -20% 18,662,905,892 3% -7%
South Dakota 1,653,712,654 1,010,960,601 -39% 1,259,394,822 25% 1,460,280,514 16% 1,550,156,362 6% -6%
Oregon 19,352,130,713 14,907,405,450 -23% 17,671,067,072 19% 18,310,101,768 4% 18,300,400,688 0% -5%
Virginia 18,941,608,711 15,052,091,034 -21% 17,163,324,645 14% 18,088,836,844 5% 18,238,803,696 1% -4%
New York 81,385,735,231 58,743,030,056 -28% 69,695,634,935 19% 84,887,562,296 22% 79,188,946,111 -7% -3%
Maine 3,016,395,471 2,231,142,502 -26% 3,163,991,540 42% 3,420,593,567 8% 3,058,020,687 -11% 1%
Connecticut 15,384,102,725 13,978,898,792 -9% 16,056,449,947 15% 16,211,927,999 1% 15,865,581,516 -2% 3%
Maryland 11,383,050,502 9,225,376,423 -19% 10,163,267,062 10% 10,852,469,923 7% 11,781,266,998 9% 3%
New Jersey 35,643,101,080 27,244,246,431 -24% 32,153,593,976 18% 38,114,577,064 19% 37,034,750,654 -3% 4%
Delaware 4,898,437,003 4,311,773,339 -12% 4,965,544,823 15% 5,509,511,785 11% 5,157,151,958 -6% 5%
Colorado 7,712,606,567 5,867,265,731 -24% 6,726,706,628 15% 7,332,497,256 9% 8,163,563,094 11% 6%
Ohio 45,627,982,845 34,104,484,238 -25% 41,493,512,722 22% 46,415,700,981 12% 48,535,070,598 5% 6%
New Mexico 2,782,906,663 1,269,535,234 -54% 1,540,970,873 21% 2,091,791,699 36% 2,979,958,233 42% 7%
Minnesota 19,186,171,449 15,531,557,833 -19% 18,903,725,389 22% 20,318,743,624 7% 20,564,868,492 1% 7%
Missouri 12,852,324,415 9,522,229,617 -26% 12,925,559,774 36% 14,153,831,541 10% 13,909,535,627 -2% 8%
California 144,805,748,349 120,079,965,765 -17% 143,192,250,991 19% 159,121,792,333 11% 161,699,611,477 2% 12%
Pennsylvania 34,648,502,042 28,381,102,168 -18% 34,927,694,246 23% 41,074,879,584 18% 38,868,921,754 -5% 12%
Wisconsin 20,569,621,721 16,724,996,880 -19% 19,789,522,286 18% 22,055,118,359 11% 23,097,184,710 5% 12%
Montana 1,394,600,906 1,053,312,395 -24% 1,388,777,953 32% 1,587,422,516 14% 1,572,538,595 -1% 13%
North Carolina 25,090,543,442 21,792,953,156 -13% 24,905,063,910 14% 27,008,756,550 8% 28,746,966,697 6% 15%
Kentucky 19,120,585,559 17,649,768,303 -8% 19,342,737,535 10% 20,083,680,609 4% 22,092,307,895 10% 16%
Vermont 3,697,411,932 3,219,270,656 -13% 4,277,417,496 33% 4,256,644,212 0% 4,305,876,862 1% 16%
Rhode Island 1,974,431,973 1,495,522,447 -24% 1,949,146,488 30% 2,282,413,186 17% 2,376,107,249 4% 20%
Iowa 12,124,631,240 9,042,125,564 -25% 10,880,026,652 20% 13,306,810,612 22% 14,603,539,933 10% 20%
Idaho 5,005,251,812 3,877,389,493 -23% 5,156,919,667 33% 5,904,889,386 15% 6,113,365,391 4% 22%
Unallocated 42,188,054,504 33,619,608,007 -20% 45,697,621,518 36% 45,286,080,134 -1% 51,572,332,757 14% 22%
Florida 54,238,239,529 46,888,006,761 -14% 55,364,760,752 18% 64,904,313,111 17% 66,398,008,572 2% 22%
Alabama 15,879,048,527 12,354,803,017 -22% 15,501,508,839 25% 17,854,217,255 15% 19,525,676,355 9% 23%
Michigan 45,135,506,345 32,655,333,884 -28% 44,768,187,457 37% 51,003,027,609 14% 56,902,109,841 12% 26%
Illinois 53,677,477,963 41,626,110,699 -22% 50,058,293,734 20% 64,823,414,516 29% 68,026,296,028 5% 27%
South Carolina 19,852,520,521 16,488,111,133 -17% 20,328,687,951 23% 24,697,462,187 21% 25,247,302,181 2% 27%
Oklahoma 5,076,531,187 4,414,915,717 -13% 5,353,190,640 21% 6,221,504,505 16% 6,575,471,379 6% 30%
Indiana 26,502,291,510 22,907,367,488 -14% 28,744,977,002 25% 32,282,315,399 12% 34,384,981,325 7% 30%
Alaska 3,541,796,749 3,270,429,748 -8% 4,154,626,473 27% 5,325,000,074 28% 4,596,240,420 -14% 30%
Georgia 27,513,961,882 23,743,041,911 -14% 28,949,552,263 22% 34,776,304,710 20% 35,892,205,893 3% 30%
Wyoming 1,081,014,094 926,141,589 -14% 983,287,911 6% 1,218,540,184 24% 1,420,496,501 17% 31%
Arkansas 5,775,976,750 5,266,978,589 -9% 5,218,646,154 -1% 5,607,245,809 7% 7,620,505,061 36% 32%
Tennessee 23,237,724,782 20,484,299,844 -12% 25,942,724,022 27% 29,993,138,751 16% 31,125,450,147 4% 34%
Nebraska 5,412,021,410 4,872,924,899 -10% 5,819,949,181 19% 7,582,290,200 30% 7,449,211,643 -2% 38%
Texas 192,221,780,916 162,994,740,450 -15% 206,960,767,594 27% 251,005,673,768 21% 265,352,022,480 6% 38%
Washington 54,498,049,919 51,850,856,743 -5% 53,353,413,033 3% 64,766,844,750 21% 75,524,528,324 17% 39%
Louisiana 41,908,136,496 32,616,451,452 -22% 41,355,870,039 27% 54,976,078,091 33% 63,155,728,249 15% 51%
North Dakota 2,772,203,944 2,193,011,373 -21% 2,536,428,341 16% 3,393,096,575 34% 4,287,618,546 26% 55%
Mississippi 7,323,468,227 6,316,488,807 -14% 8,228,851,021 30% 10,930,321,504 33% 11,778,895,746 8% 61%
Nevada 6,121,087,925 5,672,185,096 -7% 5,911,812,450 4% 7,977,768,260 35% 10,189,919,185 28% 66%
District of Columbia 1,195,906,725 1,090,543,044 -9% 1,500,660,263 38% 1,038,626,154 -31% 2,014,811,640 94% 68%
Utah 10,305,992,531 10,337,135,031 0% 13,809,376,642 34% 19,033,516,351 38% 18,938,848,133 0% 84%
West Virginia 5,643,487,491 4,825,570,207 -14% 6,449,180,362 34% 9,034,015,060 40% 11,361,868,167 26% 101%
U.S. Total 1,287,441,996,730 1,056,042,963,028 -18% 1,278,263,225,486 21% 1,480,431,903,237 16% 1,546,455,243,556 4% 20%

Source: Office of Trade and Industry Information, Manufacturing and Services, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Footnotes:

* U.S. goods exports refer to the export of material goods such as capital equipment (computer equipment, semiconducters, medical equipment); industrial machinery and equipment (plastics, chemicals and petroleum products); and, automobiles and automobile parts.

** U.S. services exports, a rapidly growing sector of both exports and the U.S. economy, includes such categories as royalties and license fees, travel services and financial services.