Spreading It Around | The Perryman Group

Spreading It Around

By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication May 15, 2024

Exports are crucial to economic prosperity, opening global markets to US products; a substantial portion of domestic business activity involves production of goods destined for foreign markets. Simultaneously, purchases lead to an inflow of funds, thus supporting domestic prosperity.

For more than two decades, Texas has been the top US export state - since 2002 in fact, when products valued at about $95.4 billion left the state. Last year, the value of Texas exports totaled $444.6 billion. In 2018, exports were $315.8 billion. In other words, Texas has enjoyed a 41% gain in just five years - even with a pandemic in between.

Texas also accounts for a substantial portion of overall US expansion. The national total volume of exports increased from almost $1.7 trillion in 2018 to over $2.0 trillion in 2023, a $355.5 billion uptick. Texas comprised $129.2 billion or 36% of the gain. Last year, the combined value of exports from Texas represented 22% of the US total.

The way the data is tracked, what is counted is products starting their journey abroad in Texas. Thus, our port infrastructure provides a natural advantage. However, most relevant products are also produced within the state.

It is hardly surprising that the largest category of exports by a significant margin is oil and gas ($139.9 billion), followed by petroleum and coal products ($70.0 billion) and chemicals ($58.3 billion). Computer and electronic products are $52.9 billion. Transportation equipment ($27.5 billion), machinery ($26.8 billion), and electrical equipment ($14.4 billion) are impressive. A variety of other manufactured products are notable, as are agricultural products (more than $5.0 billion).

It is also instructive to examine how truly dominant the state has become. Texas gained the top spot for the first time by only a modest margin over California ($95.4 billion to $92.2 billion in 2002). California also has port infrastructure, manufacturing capability, and oil and gas resources (though they are not being developed to the same degree). California's 2023 exports were $178.7 billion, a level Texas topped around 2008. That was long before oil and gas were exported to any major extent; it was essentially illegal to export crude oil from the US until December 2015. Texas exports are now almost 2.5 times those of the second-place state. California remains a major player for imports given routes from Asia, but even that has shifted to some extent, as various port strikes have encouraged greater usage of the Texas Gulf Coast through the expanded Panama Canal.

Exports support much of the US economy, and Texas is leading all states by a huge margin. With vast natural resources and strong growth in manufacturing, the gap is almost certain to widen in the future. Stay safe!