Largest Industry in Each State

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Source: Thinkstock

1. Alabama
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $8.0 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.5%
> Industry workforce: 180,952

Ambulatory health care services counted for about $8.0 billion in economic output in Alabama in 2015, more than any other industry. Those with chronic conditions are more likely to use outpatient care services such as physical therapy, and in Alabama, an estimated 8.4% of state residents aged 18-64 are on disability, the second highest share of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Alaska
> Largest industry: Oil and gas extraction
> Industry GDP contribution: $9.8 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 19.6%
> Industry workforce: 4,091

Home to the Prudhoe Bay oil field, one of the largest of its kind in the nation, Alaska’s economy is heavily dependent on natural resource extraction. Like other oil-producing states, Alaska’s economy took a hit when oil prices plummeted in 2014. Though oil and gas extraction remains the largest industry in the state, the industry contributed only $9.8 billion to GDP in 2015, down 9.4% from five years prior. Tumbling oil prices are largely to blame for the 2.1% state economic contraction over that period.

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3. Arizona
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $12.5 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.8%
> Industry workforce: 291,764

Accounting for $12.5 billion in economic activity, ambulatory health care, which includes services provided by clinics and doctors offices, is the largest industry in Arizona. Economic output generated by outpatient health care services expanded by 5.4% from 2014 to 2015. The elderly typically require more frequent medical care than younger people, and some 16.4% of Arizona residents are 65 or older — one of the larger shares of all states.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Arkansas
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $4.3 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.0%
> Industry workforce: 102,340

Ambulatory health care services — such as those provided at dentists, doctors offices and diagnostic laboratories — generated $4.3 billion in economic output in Arkansas in 2015, more than any other industry. However, Arkansas is less dependent on its largest largest industry than the vast majority of states. Arkansas’ largest industry accounts for 4.0% of state GDP. In the vast majority of states, the largest industry accounts for at least 5.0% of total GDP.

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5. California
> Largest industry: Computers and electronics manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $93.1 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.2%
> Industry workforce: 264,698

California has several major industries that are large enough to dominate the economy of many other states. This includes farms, an $18.7 billion industry in the state, and motion pictures, which produce more than $50 billion annually for the state. Both of these pale in comparison to the state’s computers and electronics segment, the epicenter of which is the state’s famous Silicon Valley. The sector employs 265,000 Californians, roughly equivalent to the entire workforce of Wyoming.