Looking at the dominant import of each state reveals the economic commodity on which each state is most dependent. Immediately noticeable is the dominance of oil and oil-related products such as gasoline or vehicles. The U.S. economy, like other industrialized economies, is highly reliant on the production and flow of oil.
The map above shows each state’s largest import (by dollar value) in 2014. Imports can be broken down into four main categories: fuel, food, electronics, and machinery. An interesting finding is certainly the high import level of sweaters & pullovers in Wisconsin. It’s understandable because of the cold weather, but still surprising.
Many states’ most imported commodity is crude oil. For the last 40 years, the U.S. has had a ban on the export of crude oil, and therefore all oil produced in the country must be refined in the country. There are refineries situated all over the U.S. to refine crude oil produced in the country, but also crude oil from Mexico, Canada, and to a lesser extent the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. The Northeast states do not have refining capacity and therefore their largest import is gasoline.
Some of the Northern states import a lot of food (seeds, beef, and cattle). North Dakota imports seeds (many from Canada) to support its large agriculture industry, South Dakota imports beef mostly for processed products like hamburger meats, and Nebraska imports cattle to support its livestock industry.
A handful of states import a great deal of electronic components to support the local electronics industry. In Idaho, Micron Technologies is a large importer of computer chips, which it uses to produce semiconductor devices such as flash memory drives. Lenovo’s U.S. headquarters in North Carolina supports laptop imports into North Carolina and Tennessee. Virginia has a large concentration of printer manufacturers, which explains the high level of printer part imports.
California is known for many things, including some of the world’s largest highways. It’s no surprise then that California (and it’s neighbor Oregon) imports a huge amount of cars from around the World. Kansas (Wichita), Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky for example are aircraft and automobile manufacturing hubs.
One last curious result is the large amount of medicine imports into Washington D.C. We can only speculate about the reason. Perhaps politics make life there a little more stressful than elsewhere.
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