Largest Industry in Each State

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16. Kansas
> Largest industry: Broadcasting and telecommunications
> Industry GDP contribution: $5.12 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.9%
> Industry private workforce: 10,945

The broadcasting and telecommunications industry expanded by 3.0% over in 2014, overtaking hospitals, nursing, and residential care facilities as the largest industry in state. Broadcasting and telecommunications now contributes more than $5 billion to Kansas’s total GDP.

The industry’s outsized contribution to economic output is due in part to the presence of certain industry giants. Telecom company Sprint, headquartered in Overland Park right outside of Kansas City, reported $32.2 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015.

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17. Kentucky
> Largest industry: Food and beverage and tobacco products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $6.61 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.9%
> Industry private workforce: 33,519

A state’s largest industry does not tend to change from one year to the next. Kentucky is one of a few states, however, where the largest industry has changed. Last year, the state’s motor vehicles and parts manufacturing was the largest industry. Now, the food and beverage and tobacco products manufacturing sector, contributing $6.61 billion to the economy, is the largest.

KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell holding company Yum! Brands are based in the state. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the dominance and recent surge of the food and beverage industry is due largely to the state’s historically strong agricultural industry.

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18. Louisiana
> Largest industry: Petroleum and coal products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $14.26 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 6.8%
> Industry private workforce: 12,060

Louisiana’s petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry grew by 26.1% in 2014, a massive growth for a single year. Just under 1% of the Louisiana workforce is employed in the industry, but that share is eight times greater than the comparable national percentage. A state’s largest industry is rarely a low paying one, and Louisiana’s petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry is no different. The typical petroleum and coal products worker in Louisiana earns $117,951 annually, slightly more than the salary of a typical industry worker nationwide of $113,937.

 
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19. Maine
> Largest industry: Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities
> Industry GDP contribution: $3.30 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 6.6%
> Industry private workforce: 56,460

With just over $50 billion in economic output, Maine’s economy is one of the smallest in the country. Of all industries in the state, hospitals, nursing, and residential care facilities contribute the most to overall GDP. The industry’s dominance may not be surprising, as 18.8% of the state’s population is 65 and older, the highest share in the country with the exception of Florida. The industry, which caters in large part to the elderly, contributes roughly 6.6% to Maine’s total GDP.

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20. Maryland
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $11.54 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.6%
> Industry private workforce: 132,215

Ambulatory health care services, also known as outpatient care, is the largest industry in Maryland based on economic output. The industry accounts for 3.6% of Maryland’s $322 billion economy. The ambulatory health care industry also provides jobs for 6.3% of the state’s total workforce.

The industry’s economic impact in the state is likely bolstered by the presence of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Headquartered in Baltimore, JHM operates a number of medical facilities statewide that also serve as training facilities for medical students from Johns Hopkins University.