Nicknamed the “Keystone State” or “Quaker State” and located in America’s northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions, Pennsylvania shipped US$42.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 3.3% gain from 2018 to 2019 and a 16.7% increase since 2016.
Pennsylvania is among America’s 10 biggest exporters by state behind front-runners including Texas, California, New York and Washington state. The value of Pennsylvania’s exports equals 2.6% of United States’ overall exported products for 2019.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Pennsylvania’s exported products represent 5.4% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2019 ($783.2 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics for one year earlier in 2018).
Given Pennsylvania’s population of 12.802 million people, its total $42.5 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $3,300 for every resident in the Quaker State.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 4.7% at February 2020 down from 4.8% as of March 2019, per YCharts.
Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Pennsylvania global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Pennsylvania.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Coal (non-agglomerated, bituminous): US$2.5 billion (5.9% of Pennsylvania’s total exports)
- Miscellaneous medications: $1.5 billion (3.5%)
- Liquified propane: $1.4 billion (3.3%)
- Human-use vaccines: $1.1 billion (2.6%)
- Immunological goods for retail sale: $760 million (1.8%)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $702 million (1.7%)
- Motorcycles (large piston engine): $680 million (1.6%)
- Palladium (unwrought or in powder form): $613 million (1.4%)
- Large helicopters: $543 million (1.3%)
- Cell phones: $537 million (1.3%)
Pennsylvania’s top 10 exports accounted for 24.4% of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Palladium whether unprocessed or in powder form was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 143.3% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were large helicopters which rose 103.4%. Pennsylvania’s international shipments of liquified propane posted the third-fastest gain in value thanks to its 42.5% expansion.
The leading decliner among Pennsylvania’s top 10 export products were human-use vaccines due to a -13% retreat year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, Pennsylvania incurred a -$47.5 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 0.3% year-over-year increase from -$47.3 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.
Below are Pennsylvania’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2019.
- Miscellaneous medications: $14.1 billion (15.7% of Pennsylvania’s total imports)
- Crude petroleum oils: $5.6 billion (6.2%)
- Human-use vaccines: $4.5 billion (5%)
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $2.6 billion (2.9%)
- Immunological products in measured doses: $1.9 billion (2.1%)
- Cell phones: $1.7 billion (1.9%)
- Small portable digital computers: $1.1 billion (1.3%)
- Semi-trailer truck tractors $833 million (1%)
- Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $831 million (0.9%)
- Palladium (unwrought or in powder form): $752 million (0.8%)
Pennsylvania has highly negative net exports in the international trade of a wide variety of medicines, unprocessed petroleum oils and mobile phones. In turn, these cashflows indicate Pennsylvania’s strong competitive disadvantages under those product categories showing the strong impact of foreign goods on the Pennsylvanian global balance sheet.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase 70.1% worth of the total value of products exported from Pennsylvania during 2019.
- Canada: $11.2 billion (26.3% of Pennsylvania’s total exports)
- Mexico: $4.2 billion (9.9%)
- China: $2.5 billion (5.9%)
- Japan: $2.4 billion (5.7%)
- United Kingdom: $2.4 billion (5.6%)
- Belgium: $1.8 billion (4.2%)
- Netherlands: $1.77 billion (4.2%)
- India: $1.56 billion (3.7%)
- Germany: $1.55 billion (3.6%)
- South Korea: $1.04 billion (2.4%)
Pennsylvania’s top trade partners in North America, Canada and Mexico, account for 36.2% of the overall value of the state’s exported goods. That percentage compares to 17.7% for Asia’s leading importers (China, Japan, India, South Korea) of Pennsylvanian exports.
Pennsylvania Export Companies
Forty-six of Pennsylvania-headquartered corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies, a list that includes America’s largest businesses. Selected examples are shown below.
- Carpenter Technology Corp (stainless steel, alloys)
- Vishay Intertechnology (electronic components, semiconductors)
- EQT Corp (petroleum, natural gas)
- Armstrong World Industries (walls, ceilings)
- United Refining Company (petroleum, gasoline)
- EnerSys (batteries)
- GNC (vitamins, other health-related foods)
- Kennametal (tools, industrial materials)
- Dentsply Sirona (dental supplies, equipment)
- Unisys Corp (IT software, technology, services)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business sells.
Pennsylvania’s capital is Harrisburg, a city literally nicknamed “Pennsylvania’s Capital City”.
See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances
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