Nicknamed “The Heart of Dixie” and “The Cotton State” located in America’s southeastern region, Alabama shipped US$20.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -3.1% dip from 2018 to 2019 but a 1.4% uptick since 2016.
Alabama ranks among America’s 25 biggest exporters by state behind front-runners Texas, California, New York and Washington state. The value of Alabama’s exports equals 1.3% of United States’ overall exported products for 2019.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Alabama’s exported products represent 9.2% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product ($224.7 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).
Given Alabama’s population of 4.903 million people, its total $20.7 billion in 2019 exported goods translates to roughly $4,300 for every resident in the Cotton State.
Alabama’s unemployment rate was 2.7% as of December 2019, down from 3.8% at April 2019 per YCharts.
Alabama’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Alabama global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Alabama.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): US$2.9 billion (14.2% of Alabama’s total exports)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $2.2 billion (10.6%)
- Large automobiles (diesel engine): $1.6 billion (7.6%)
- Coal (non-agglomerated, bituminous) $1.4 billion (6.7%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $1.3 billion (6.4%)
- Mid-sized automobiles (diesel engine): $829 million (4%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $458 million (2.2%)
- Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $428 million (2.1%)
- Polycarbonates: $400 million (1.9%)
- Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $360 million (1.7%)
Alabama’s top 10 exports represent over half (57.4%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Mid-sized automobiles powered by diesel engine represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 179.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were large automobiles powered by diesel engines which gained 10.8% year over year, trailed by mid-sized automobiles powered by piston engine (up 7%) then aircraft including engines and other parts (up 6%).
The leading decliners among Alabama top 10 export products were large automobiles with piston engines which retreated -31.6% year over year, non-agglomerated bituminous coal (down -15.7%) and miscellaneous petroleum oils (down -12.2%).
More Key Facts
Overall, Alabama incurred a -$5.5 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 147.4% year-over-year expansion from -$2.2 billion in red ink in 2018.
Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a state’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same state’s spending on foreign goods or services.
Below are Alabama’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2019.
- Crude petroleum oils: $2.4 billion (8.5% of Alabama’s total imports)
- Turbo-jets: $1.5 billion (5.3%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $864 million (3%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $780 million (2.7%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $678 million (2.4%)
- Seat parts: $525 million (1.8%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $494 million (1.7%)
- Brakes, brake parts: $463 million (1.6%)
- Steering wheels/columns/boxes: $441 million (1.5%)
- Motor vehicle transmissions: $399 million (1.4%)
Alabama has highly negative net exports in the international trade of crude petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Alabama’s competitive disadvantages under that mineral fuels-related category.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase well over two-thirds (71.8%) worth of the total value of products exported from Alabama during 2019.
- Canada $3.9 billion (18.6% of Alabama’s total exports)
- Germany $3.1 billion (15.1%)
- Mexico $2.3 billion (10.8%)
- China $2.2 billion (10.8%)
- Japan $796 million (3.8%)
- Belgium $572 million (2.8%)
- South Korea $531 million (2.6%)
- Brazil $523 million (2.5%)
- France $499 million (2.4%)
- India $497 million (2.4%)
Alabama’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) represent almost a third (29.5%) of the overall value of exported goods from the Cotton State, trailed by major partners in Europe (20.3%) and Asia (19.6%).
Alabama Export Companies
Three Alabama-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Those firms are listed below.
- Encompass Health Corp (healthcare services)
- Vulcan Materials Company (crushed stone, gravel, sand)
- Regions Financial Corp (retail/commercial banking)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of products or services that each business offers, some of which are related to Alabama’s international trade transactions.
Alabama’s capital is Montgomery, a city nicknamed “The Gump”, “Cradle of the Confederacy” and “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement”.
See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances
Department of Numbers, Alabama GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on March 11, 2020
FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on March 11, 2020
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 11, 2020
GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on March 11, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 11, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 11, 2020
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on March 11, 2020
United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Alabama. Accessed on March 11, 2020
Wikipedia, Alabama. Accessed on March 11, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Alabama Companies. Accessed on March 11, 2020
Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on March 11, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montgomery, United States. Accessed on March 11, 2020
YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on March 11, 2020