Special Report

Each State’s Largest Industry

Pick any two cities or towns in the United States, and each will be home to people who work in very similar fields. Certain occupations in fields like education, sanitation, law enforcement, health care, and retail are common across the country as they are practical necessities. 

Still, the occupational makeup of different parts of the country varies in other important ways that are influenced by the areas’ history, geography, natural resources, local laws, and demographics. These factors can have considerable economic implications and lay the foundation of a given area’s industry composition.

Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, 24/7 Wall St. identified the largest industry in each state by contribution to overall GDP. Because real estate accounts for the largest share of GDP in most states, and to better highlight regional differences, the real estate industry was excluded from our analysis. 

The strength of a given state’s overall economy often depends on the performance of its largest industry. For example, oil and gas extraction accounts for nearly one-quarter of Texas’ economic output, and as oil prices cratered in 2014 and continued to fall through 2016, Texas’ GDP remained effectively flat over those years even as the U.S. as a whole recorded growth. Here is a look at the state economies hit hardest by the COVID-19 recession

It is important to note that the largest industry in each state can vary considerably by economic output, depending on the size of the state. For example, in New York, monetary authorities generated $174.1 billion in 2019, while in neighboring Vermont, the largest industry, ambulatory health care services, generated just $1.6 billion. Here is a look at the states with the best and worst economies

Click here to see each state’s largest industry.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.