Special Report

Largest Industry in Each State

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16. Kansas
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $4.8 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.5%
> Industry workforce: 110,678

Producing one-fifth of the country’s wheat, Kansas might be best known for its agricultural production, but agriculture is not its largest industry. The state’s outpatient health care industry is larger. While Kansas farms in 2015 accounted for about $3.5 billion in GDP, the state’s ambulatory health care services accounted for $4.8 billion. A boon for Kansas’s economy, the industry grew by 6.3% in 2015, much faster than the state’s overall 2.2% GDP growth that year.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Kentucky
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $6.9 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 4.0%
> Industry workforce: 163,166

Ambulatory health care services contributed $6.9 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2015. People facing chronic illnesses and other health conditions are more likely to access outpatient care. In Kentucky, 17% of the total population received disability benefits, the third highest share in the country. Though health care is it the state’s largest industry, Kentucky is not overly dependent on it. Ambulatory services accounted for only 4.0% of the state’s total GDP. In most states, the largest industry accounts for at least 5.0% of total economic output.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Louisiana
> Largest industry: Petroleum and coal products manufacturing
> Industry GDP contribution: $15.7 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 7.6%
> Industry workforce: 12,060

One of the biggest energy producers, Louisiana’s 18 oil refineries are capable of processing over 3.3 million barrels of crude oil a day. The state’s petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry generated $15.7 billion in 2015. While falling oil prices have hurt many states that depend on oil extraction, Louisiana’s largest industry appears to be thriving. The state’s petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry expanded by 11.8% in 2015.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Maine
> Largest industry: Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities
> Industry GDP contribution: $3.4 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 6.6%
> Industry workforce: 169,380

The typical Maine resident is about 45-years old, the highest median age of all states and well above the 38 year median age nationwide. Additionally, 18.8% of state residents are 65 or older, the largest share of any U.S. state after only Florida. The state’s relatively large elderly population partially explains why the state’s largest industry — with an output of $3.4 billion — is hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities.

Source: Thinkstock

20. Maryland
> Largest industry: Ambulatory health care services
> Industry GDP contribution: $12.4 billion
> Industry output as pct. of GDP: 3.8%
> Industry workforce: 264,430

Generating $12.4 billion in economic output in 2015, ambulatory health care services is the largest industry in Maryland. The industry, which includes outpatient facilities and doctors offices, accounts for 3.8% of the state’s total GDP. Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University is home to both one of the most respected hospitals and medical schools in the country.