Special Report

Largest Industry in Each State

Thomas C. Frohlich, Samuel Stebbins

Tropical Resort Hawaii Accomodations
Source: Thinkstock

11. Hawaii
> Largest industry: Accommodation
> Industry GDP contribution: $3.83 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 5.5%
> Industry private workforce: 39,171

Hawaii’s economy relies heavily on tourists visiting the scenic island chain. Therefore, it is certainly no surprise that the accommodation sector is the state’s largest industry, contributing $3.83 billion to the economy. While property owners make money by renting out accommodations, industry workers benefit as well. The typical worker in the state’s largest industry earns $46,737 annually, significantly higher than the average salary of $29,619 accommodation workers nationwide earn.

electronic-and-computer-manufacturing
Source: Thinkstock

12. Idaho
> Largest industry: Computer and electronic products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $2.59 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.5%
> Industry private workforce: 11,885

According to the Idaho Department of Commerce, advanced manufacturing is thriving in the state, having grown by nearly 40% over the decade through 2014. Computer and electronic products manufacturing, part of advanced manufacturing, is the state’s largest industry. The industry contributes $2.59 billion to the state’s economy annually and has also grown in recent years — by 6.3% in 2014 alone.

The average salary of industry workers of $101,448 a year is slightly lower than the average for such workers nationwide. The share of the state’s workforce employed in the industry, at 2.2%, is more than double the national share.

insurance-carrier-and-salesman-related-activities
Source: Thinkstock

13. Illinois
> Largest industry: Insurance carriers and related activities
> Industry GDP contribution: $27.74 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.1%
> Industry private workforce: 112,372

The insurance industry is the largest in Illinois in terms of economic output. It employs some 2.2% of the state’s workforce and contributes 4.1% to total GDP. The industry’s economic impact is due largely to the presence of some industry giants in the state. Headquartered in Bloomington, one of the country’s largest insurance companies — State Farm — reported $75.7 billion in revenue in 2015. The average salary among insurance employees in Illinois is $88,653 a year, about $7,500 more than the average salary of industry workers nationwide.

chemical-products-manufacturing
Source: Thinkstock

14. Indiana
> Largest industry: Chemical products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $24.02 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 8.2%
> Industry private workforce: 30,957

Unlike the largest industry in most states, Indiana’s chemical products manufacturing industry contracted slightly in 2014. Still, the sector contributes $24.02 billion to the state’s economy, more than any other industry in Indiana. With the industry employing around 31,000 Indiana residents, or 1.2% of the workforce, Indiana workers are nearly twice as likely to work in chemical products manufacturing as workers nationwide. Industry workers are also relatively well paid in the state, with a typical worker earning $107,385 a year. By contrast, the average salary of such workers nationally is $95,967.

Insurance carriers and related activities
Source: Thinkstock

15. Iowa
> Largest industry: Insurance carriers and related activities
> Industry GDP contribution: $11.37 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 7.4%
> Industry private workforce: 42,603

Iowa is one of six states where the insurance industry tops all others in terms of economic output. The industry contributes nearly $11.4 billion to the state’s economy, or roughly 7.4% of total GDP.

The industry has also played a significant historical role in the state. As commerce spread down the Mississippi River in the 19th century, insurance companies out of Iowa protected merchants and their inventory. Today, more than 80 insurance companies are headquartered in Iowa.