Small counties are the most export-dependent places in the US

November 17, 2017 – According to a recent Pew Research Center report, the US is on pace to export more than $2.3 trillion in goods and services this year, representing about 12% of total gross domestic product. With the Trump administration talking tough about renegotiating various trade deals with other countries – or even leaving them altogether – local economies that rely heavily on exports could be significantly affected.


Although counties containing big cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Houston generate the highest dollar volumes of exports, the most export-dependent places tend to be relatively small, often rural or suburban counties whose economies are based on a single industry – or sometimes even a single company or plant. In fact, of the 154 counties or county equivalents where exports accounted for more than a quarter of GDP last year, only 11 had populations above 100,000 and half had fewer than 25,000 residents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data compiled by the Brookings Institution for its “Export Monitor 2017” report. (Overall, 602 counties and county equivalents, or about 19% of the total, had populations above 100,000 last year.)

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