Special Report

Largest Industry in Each State

Source: Thinkstock

46. Virginia
> Largest industry: Administrative and support services
> Industry GDP contribution: $15.5 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.6%
> Industry workforce: 432,482

Though it is Virginia’s largest industry after real estate, administrative and support services is not especially dominant in the Old Dominion state. The $15.5 billion generated by administrative and support services in 2015 accounted for only 3.6% of GDP that year — making Virginia one of only three states in which the largest industry contributed less than 4.0% to overall GDP. Still, the industry is an economic boon for Virginia, expanding by 22.6% in the last five years. In comparison, Virginia’s overall economy grew at only a 3.1% pace over the same period.

Source: Thinkstock

47. Washington
> Largest industry: Publishing industries, except Internet (includes software)
> Industry GDP contribution: $28.8 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 7.2%
> Industry workforce: 61,912

Almost 1 in every 10 Americans employed in publishing work at companies in Washington state. Accounting for about 7.2% of the state’s total GDP, publishing is the largest industry in the state.

In general, publishing is a high paying industry. Nationwide, the average annual salary in the industry is about $104,000. With an average salary of about $190,000, publishing professionals are compensated even more generously in Washington. Publishing companies in Washington include software companies like Microsoft.

Source: Thinkstock

48. West Virginia
> Largest industry: Mining, except oil and gas
> Industry GDP contribution: $4.9 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 7.3%
> Industry workforce: 16,526

West Virginia is the country’s fourth largest energy-producing state, largely due to its substantial coal production. The state is the largest coal producer in the country east of the Mississippi. However, energy prices have plummeted in recent years, and this has clearly negatively affected the state’s largest industry. West Virginia’s mining industry excluding oil and gas generated just under $5 billion in 2015. That is down from over $8 billion in 2011, a nearly 40% decline.

Source: Thinkstock

49. Wisconsin
> Largest industry: Insurance
> Industry GDP contribution: $14.2 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 5.2%
> Industry workforce: 62,351

Generating $14.2 billion in economic output in 2015, insurance is the largest industry in Wisconsin after real estate. Partially due to rising insurance coverage rates in the state, largely attributable to the Affordable Care Act, insurance has been a boon for the state’s economy, expanding by 25.6% over the last five years. Insurance companies headquartered in the state include Sentry, American Family Insurance, and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Wyoming
> Largest industry: Oil and gas extraction
> Industry GDP contribution: $4.5 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 12.5%
> Industry workforce: 4,253

During the worst of the recession and in the aftermath, a few of the major oil producing states were able to weather poor global economy. Unemployment rates remained relatively stable in these states. Despite the global decline in the price of oil that began in late 2014, Wyoming’s oil and gas extraction industry expanded by 14.4% in 2015 — even as the overall economy contracted by 0.3% the same year. The worst of the effects falling oil prices will have on Wyoming’s economy likely remain to be seen.