Special Report

Largest Industry in Each State

46. Virginia
> Largest industry:
Food and beverage and tobacco products manufacturing
> Industry GDP: $15.7 billion
> Industry GDP as pct. of total: 3.7%
> Industry private workforce: 36,541

Tobacco has been an important driver of Virginia’s economy since the plant was discovered by English settlers in the early 17th century. The subsector now includes food and beverage manufacturing, which in Virginia, is dominated by large food processing companies. Kraft, Hershey Chocolate, and MillerCoors — to name a few examples — all have major operations in the state. The industry as a whole generates $15.7 billion, or about 3.7% of Virginia’s GDP.

47. Washington
> Largest industry:
Publishing industries, except Internet (includes software)
> Industry GDP: $30.2 billion
> Industry GDP as pct. of total: 8.0%
> Industry private workforce: 60,635

Washington is the only state where print publishing is the largest industry. Its share of Washington’s economy is relatively large compared to that of the largest industries in other states. Accounting for 8% of Washington’s total economy, there are only 11 states where the largest industry contributes a larger share to the state’s GDP. Despite the publishing industry’s large contribution to GDP, it employs a relatively small share of the private workforce. Only 2.4% of privately employed workers in Washington work in the state’s largest industry, a smaller proportion than in all but 14 other states.

48. West Virginia
> Largest industry:
Mining, except oil and gas
> Industry GDP: $6.0 billion
> Industry GDP as pct. of total: 9.2%
> Industry private workforce: 20,943

Mining includes ore extraction, quarrying, and beneficiation, the process by which raw minerals are crushed, screened, washed, and sized. While natural gas and other energy sources are gaining importance in West Virginia, coal is by far the state’s most abundant resource. West Virginia’s mining industry contributed $6 billion, or 9.2% to the state’s total economy.

49. Wisconsin
> Largest industry:
Insurance carriers and related activities
> Industry GDP: $12.2 billion
> Industry GDP as pct. of total: 4.6%
> Industry private workforce: 63,124

Wisconsin is one of six states where the largest industry by GDP contribution is insurance. Of those states, Wisconsin has the third largest insurance industry after Connecticut and Illinois, worth more than $12 billion in 2013. Just over 63,000 people work in the insurance industry in Wisconsin, about 2.7% of the private workforce.

50. Wyoming
> Largest industry:
Mining, except oil and gas
> Industry GDP: $4.9 billion
> Industry GDP as pct. of total: 13.7%
> Industry private workforce: 9,544

Wyoming is home to the eight largest coal mines in the United States and produces more coal than any other state. Mining is also the biggest industry in the state. Nearly 14% of Wyoming’s total GDP comes from the mining industry. The largest industry in only three other states account for a larger share of their respective states’ economies. With about 40% of all coal mined in the United States coming from Wyoming, mining is a nearly $5 billion industry in the country’s least populated state.

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