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.

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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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