Special Report

Largest Industry in Each State

Fracking oil rig drills in Oklahoma field, gas extraction
Source: Thinkstock

36. Oklahoma
> Largest industry: Oil and gas extraction
> Industry GDP contribution: $20.38 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 12.1%
> Industry private workforce: 23,868

One of the top five oil-producing states, Oklahoma’s biggest industry is oil and gas extraction. Though oil extraction has been a crucial component of Oklahoma’s history and economic development, it has had an increasingly large role in recent years, as the number of proved reserves in the state doubled between 2009 and 2014. Today, oil and gas extraction generates $20.4 billion in economic output annually, or more than a tenth of the state’s total GDP.

 
Computer chip, Computer and electronic products manufacturing
Source: Thinkstock

37. Oregon
> Largest industry: Computer and electronic products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $33.89 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 17.7%
> Industry private workforce: 37,520

Oregon’s largest industry, computer and electronic products manufacturing, accounts for 17.7% of the state’s GDP. Despite dropping by 5.4% in 2014, the sector makes up a larger share of total GDP than any industry in every other state. A state’s largest industry tends to be relatively high paying. This is especially the case in Oregon, where the typical computer and electronic products manufacturing worker earns $126,842 annually, considerably more than the national average industry salary of $108,870.

Computer chip manufacturer Intel is based in California, but several of its fabrication plants are located in Oregon. The plants employ tens of thousands of Oregon residents and contribute substantially to the state’s economy.

 
hospitals-and-nursing-and-residential-care-facilities-nurses
Source: Thinkstock

38. Pennsylvania
> Largest industry: Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities
> Industry GDP contribution: $28.13 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.6%
> Industry private workforce: 471,908

Only five states have a larger share of elderly residents than Pennsylvania. The relatively large 17% share of 65 or older residents is the most likely explanation for the state’s largest industry. Hospitals and nursing homes generate $28.1 billion annually in the Keystone State, or nearly 5% of the state’s GDP. As the population ages, the industry will likely only expand in the coming years.

Nurse preparing bed in operating room, Hospital
Source: Thinkstock

39. Rhode Island
> Largest industry: Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities
> Industry GDP contribution: $2.76 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 5.5%
> Industry private workforce: 41,663

Though it is the smallest state geographically, Rhode Island has a larger economy than six other states. The industry contributing the most to the state’s $50.5 billion GDP is hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care facilities.

Historically, the industry has been a major component of the state economy, and that is not likely to change in the coming years. The broader health care industry was the fastest growing in the state between 2000 and 2010. Projections suggest the industry will be the largest employer in the state at least through 2020.

 
customer-support-administrative-and-support-services
Source: Thinkstock

40. South Carolina
> Largest industry: Administrative and support services
> Industry GDP contribution: $6.81 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.9%
> Industry private workforce: 146,396

Workers in the administrative and support services sector are frequently employed as secretaries, administrative assistants, office clerks, as well as janitors and security guards. Such jobs are found across most segments of the economy. In South Carolina, the industry generates $6.81 billion, more than any other industry in the state.

South Carolina’s largest industry employs 9.1% of the state’s workforce, a relatively large share compared with the national percentage. However, the industry is exceptional on this list as the average worker earns just $30,021 — lower than the national average salary for workers in the industry and especially low compared with wages in the largest industries in other states.