The hub for America’s automotive industry thanks to three major automobile businesses with headquarters within principal city Detroit’s metropolitan area, Michigan shipped US$55.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -4.7% decline from 2018 to 2019 but a 1% increase since 2016.
Michigan is among America’s 10 biggest exporters by state behind Texas, California, New York, Washington, Louisiana then Illinois.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Michigan’s exported products represent 11.8% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2019 ($470.1 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics one year earlier in 2018).
Given Michigan’s population of about 10 million people during 2019, its total $55.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $5,400 for every resident in the Great Lakes and Midwestern state.
Michigan’s unemployment rate was 3.6% at February 2020 down from 4.7% as of March 2019, per YCharts.
Michigan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Michigan’s global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Michigan.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Small gas-powered trucks: $55.3 billion (10% of Michigan’s exports)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $35 billion (6.3%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $26.4 billion (4.8%)
- Motor vehicle transmissions: $25.8 billion (4.7%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $17.9 billion (3.2%)
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $15.4 billion (2.8%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $13.6 billion (2.5%)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $12 billion (2.2%)
- Natural gas (gaseous state): $10.8 billion (2%)
- Vehicle rear-view mirrors: $10.5 billion (1.9%)
Michigan’s top 10 exports accounted for 40.4% of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Natural gas in gaseous states was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 26.5% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were small gas-powered trucks which rose 15.4% in total value. Michigan-made aircraft including engines and other parts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 8%.
The biggest decliner among Michigan’s top 10 export products were miscellaneous motor vehicle parts which fell in value by -32% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, Michigan incurred an -$84.4 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -4.7% year-over-year decrease from -$88.6 billion in red ink for 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.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
Below are Michigan’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2019.
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $15.4 billion (10.8% of Michigan’s imports)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $13.9 billion (9.8%)
- Small gas-powered trucks: $13.9 billion (9.8%)
- Small automobiles (piston engine): $12.8 billion (9%)
- Small diesel-powered trucks: $5.4 billion (3.8%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $4.4 billion (3.1%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $4.3 billion (3%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $4.2 billion (2.9%)
- Motor vehicle transmissions: $2.6 billion (1.8%)
- Seat parts: $2.5 billion (1.8%)
Michigan has highly negative net exports in the international trade of crude oil. This showing the strong impact of foreign-supplied energy on Michigan’s global balance sheet.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase 83% worth of the total value of products exported from Michigan during 2019.
- Canada $22.7 billion (41% of Michigan’s total exports)
- Mexico $11.2 billion (20.2%)
- China $3.2 billion (5.9%)
- Germany $2 billion (3.7%)
- Japan $1.4 billion (2.6%)
- South Korea $1.4 billion (2.5%)
- Italy $1.1 billion (2.1%)
- Belgium $929 million (1.7%)
- Brazil $920 million (1.7%)
- United Kingdom $904 million (1.6%)
Michigan’s trade partners in North America, Canada and Mexico, account for over three-fifths (61.5%) of the overall value of exported goods from the state.
Michigan’s Export Companies
Five of Michigan-headquartered corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. These are shown in the top positions listed below.
The other 5 leading companies headquartered in Michigan are leading American businesses according to the Fortune 500 ranking.
- General Motors (automobile manufacturer)
- Dow Chemical (diversified chemicals)
- Ford Motor (automobile manufacturer)
- Whirlpool (household appliances)
- Penske Automotive (automobile parts, accessories)
- Lear Corp (automotive seating, electrical)
- Kellogg’s (processed foods)
- Stryker Corporation (medical devices)
- DTE Energy (electricity, natural gas)
- BorgWarner (vehicle transmissions)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related product category which each company sells.
Michigan’s capital city is Lansing, nicknamed L-Town and the Heart of Michigan.
See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances
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FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on April 5, 2020
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 5, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 5, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 5, 2020
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on April 5, 2020
United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Tennessee. Accessed on April 5, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Michigan. Accessed on April 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Michigan. Accessed on April 5, 2020
Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on April 5, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Lansing, United States. Accessed on April 5, 2020
YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on April 5, 2020