Mapping What Every State In America Is Best At

Tyler Durden's picture

Company towns used to be a defining feature of the American economy. Nowadays, as Raul at notes, thanks to globalization and offshoring, it is much harder to find employers that exert such influence over a small town (with a few notable exceptions).

That being said, specific industries still tend to grow in clusters and can dominate the economy of a particular region. To understand this new reality, we mapped the most important industries by state according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which takes into account an industry’s collective output as a percentage of the overall GDP. For simplicity, we excluded government jobs and real estate.

The result is one of the easiest snapshots of the U.S. economy you will ever find.


The government groups companies into particular industries using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Basically, someone looks at a company and decides where it belongs on a list of industries. This is more complex than it sounds, especially if a parent company holds many different unrelated subsidiaries (like Amazon), or when a business model strides the line between different industries (anyone care to debate if Airbnb is a technology company or in the hospitality industry?). We simply generated a color-coded map of the results of this debate.

You can immediately see some interesting groupings in the map.

 Computer & electronics companies dominate the West Coast, oil & gas remains ascendant in the Southwest, and insurance companies take the greatest market share in the Upper Midwest.

Take a look at the deep South, where you see a lot of red signifying the ambulatory healthcare services industry. This single industry dominates in 13 different states. Think about the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in these places, and it’s pretty easy to understand why these industries are so important. For example, Apple, Facebook, and Google are all headquartered in Silicon Valley in California.

Things tend to be much more diverse across the Northeast, where you see many different industries all grouped together. This is also easy to explain: it’s one of the most population-dense places in the country and it has the smallest states in terms of geography. This environment lets a lot of different industries grow together.

Factory towns may be a thing of the past, but it remains true today that similar businesses tend to grow and expand in areas with the same economic conditions.

This is true for less populous states like North Dakota and places with big cities too, like Colorado. If you’re looking for a job in one of these states, then our list gives you a good idea of where the biggest opportunities might be.


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serotonindumptruck's picture

Federal Reserve Banks are considered an industry?

NoDecaf's picture

looks like the only one worth a damn is West Virginia.

Déjà view's picture


Tejas $10 Bn RAINY DAY FUND©®™…

The governor said if the state needs to tap the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery, it won't be until the next legislative session in 2019. 
On Tuesday evening, Abbott spokesman John Wittman said Florida is getting a 75/25 split with FEMA after Irma — meaning the federal government is picking up 75 percent of the recovery tab, while 25 percent is up to local governments. By comparison, Abbott negotiated a 90/10 split following Harvey, Wittman said.

Ignatius's picture

At first I thought they should at least give a nod to Utah's major contribution to the NSA's unconstitutional spying on the American people at Bluffdale, but then I realized it could be argued that illegal spying is just a subset of Federal Reserve Banking.

We're all good at something.  Way to go, Utah!

Taint Boil's picture

Holy Fuck .... do we make anything anymore....

Bes's picture

definitely not trump merchandise


zuuma's picture

not tattoo removal in West Virginia?

Maybe in ten years.

Whoa Dammit's picture

@Taint-Apparently we make a lot of sick people, or if you prefer, make a lot of people sick.

FEDbuster's picture

Kind of thought WV would be Pharmaceuticals given the amount of Oxycodone sold there.

Creative_Destruct's picture

Apparently we....make....NOTHING.... except ambulatory old people, banksters, and bloodsucking insurers.

Most of the hardware like computers is outsourced to the far east.

Richard Chesler's picture

Hospital & Nursing
The corrupt Obondinga mandate that keeps giving.
We can't get rid of the homo's legacy fast enough.

RafterManFMJ's picture

It is to laugh; how many of these states top industries are purely non-productive horseshit?

And in 10 years, as fracking runs it course - well, there goes that.

And finally, a shout out to W. Virginia! Real people doing real things!

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

Hey its pronounced West By God Virginia!

boattrash's picture

"Apparently we....make....NOTHING.... except ambulatory old people"

Can anybody tell me "What the Fuck"? Am I blind, or is agriculture not on the list in any state? Maybe the $$$$ value is too low, which could be a sign that farmers need to take a vacation and simply "shut it the fuck down". What would empty stomachs around the fucking globe do for GDP, both food-wise, and to the health care funds?

ReturnOfDaMac's picture

Yes, we make fat-asses and sick people.  See red-states and hover-round sales at wally world.

Kidbuck's picture

Ambulatory Health Care Services = what families used to provide for each other before they turned their lives over to the government. It's all good though 'cause your neighbor is picking up your tab.

max2205's picture

Well this is shit.... state govt IS the biggest industry in almost every state..... I read this because I was bored 

Ignatius's picture

Great and simple point, max.

Akzed's picture

We're all good at something.  Way to go, Utah!

Plus funny undies.

Arkansas "hospitals and nursing"? Should be toothbrushes. The toothbrush ws invented in Arkansas. If it were invented anywhere else it would have been called a teethbrush.

graspAU's picture

Moving to WV today. Unfortunately, the west and southern part of the state is deep into the opioid epedemic. THe state is beautiful, and from where I'm coming, they have lower income taxes, much lower property taxes, lower home prices, even better schools for the kiddos, and you don't need a permit to conceal carry (although I don't feel the need). 

zhandax's picture

Haven't carried in 30 years simply because I would shoot three deserving assholes a week on the freeway.

new game's picture

they are winning. come on, shoot the bastards...

Gen. Ripper's picture

Good luck. I left 35 years ago when it was still a decent place. Now even the ghosts have departed.

Gen. Ripper's picture

Hell yeah, I mean hell no - the place is a fucking disaster.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

It looks like the Coma-Inducing News Network is the dominant industry in that state. Luckily, neighboring states specialize in ambulatory services, because workers in GA’s premier industry are skilled in putting viewers into a coma by saying the same thing over and over again, day after day after day after day after day:


And lately, since there is an opportunity for minority families to be paraded around:

Gold Star Families
Gold Star Famiiies
Gold Star Families

The other big industry in that state is telecom. Having been to some interviews in that industry, seeing the super un-diverse, minority-dominant, “EEOC-compliant” demographic, I am not surprised.

The gender and age preferences are, likewise, striking, especially when reading job ads: “voted best workplace for moms.” Cliques — often back-watching absenteeism cliques based on mutual parenthood (or based on other social characteristics unrelated to the work) — dominate every industry, not just telecom.

That is why all talk about discrimination against minorities and women is such a big lie. Minorities and women are often — very, very often — the biggest, the boldest and the most blatant discriminators of all.

The midwest has a lot of insurance industry activity. I have 4 insurance licenses, a bachelor's degree and many years of relevant experience, but nothing has exited my birth canal. Outside of one larger company and a few small agencies, I have seen mostly unlicensed mommas, working in the many low-wage insurance jobs that pay between $9 and $12 per hour in my state.

Those mom-clique workers are [[[[[[amazingly]]]]]] and [[[[[frequently]]]]] absentee in many cases. It is all excused due to the following sources of unearned income that make low wages tolerable for the momma clique: child support that pays for rent, a spousal income or monthly welfare that covers rent and groceries and child tax credits ($3,337 — $6,269).

My state, like so many in the South, excels in ambulatory health services. Who knew? Thanks Tyler. It explains a lot. The healthcare industry pays more, and God knows, we have o’ plenty of McMansions in this state.

We also have an overwhelming amount of poverty and a per-capita income of $19k.

For the state’s childless and single individuals, rent takes half (or usually more than half) of the low pay, and unless sex led to a lot of children you can’t afford as a citizen, a legal or illegal immigrant, there is no free rent, free groceries, cash assistance and $6,269 child tax credit checks to make up the difference between what living expenses cost and your low, earned-only income.

Implied Violins's picture

Those Gutenbergs require a lot of maintenance, not to mention entire forests and a tons of squid ink.

MsCreant's picture

How to milk a squid.

1. Buy an island. 

2. Imprison child sex slaves.

3. Invite squids to your island. Fly them in.

4. Tape the procedings.

5. Fly them out.

6. Profit. 

7. Keep steps 2-5 constantly in play.

8. Milk ink, repeat.

9. Profit. 

Implied Violins's picture

So, you're saying that step 2, '???', was actually 7 steps?

Wait, where are the underpants in all of this? Wasn't that step one? Or do we want to know???

new game's picture

no underpants, not needed.

one step, open pizza delivery service...

still looking for seth update...

Offthebeach's picture

Nuzio and Vinny, as fellow "loaners", take exception to your belittling of the "industry "

Schmuck Raker's picture

D.C. doesn't even get a dishonorable mention?

Stuck on Zero's picture

Their top industry is graft and corruption.

Implied Violins's picture

They are also tops at producing raw sewage, zeppelin gases, pizza and walnut sauce.

shankster's picture

Corruption wasn't on the list.

Secret Weapon's picture

Kind of fucked up. No where did I see food production or marijuana growing. 

SheHunter's picture

Nice change from the norm article ZH.  thnx.  YeeHaw to my oil and gas states!  One of our last blue collar, work boot, hands dirty and muscle tired end of day lifestyles.

pawn's picture

Use 2 cattle wrestling,  throw in a little stage coach contruction had those western oh southwestern states. Where does prostitution come in?

SheHunter's picture

Good honest NV revenue. The little trailer house north of Carlin still lets the miners and truckers know when the 2 girls are not busy by the flashing red porch light. !  Red light flashing means stop and say hellloooooo (:

any_mouse's picture

Accommodation. The ladies are accommodating to your fetishes.

Speaking of prostitution, how in the Hell does the FED have the largest share of GDP for Utah, South Dakota, and New York?


helloimjohnnycat's picture

Proposition hunnerd dollars is Everywhere.

Look around, sluts are half the population....

and then we have all the joos.

blown income's picture

I see Louisiana says coal ....??? huh ??? oil / gas no fucking coal here..

10mm's picture

Dixie cups and string.