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High tech leads district exports

October 1, 1997


Rob Grunewald Associate Editor, Statistics
High tech leads district exports

Manufactured exports from Ninth District states continued to grow at a strong pace in 1996, with increases ranging from 7 percent in Wisconsin to 55 percent in Montana. High technology companies fared well among industries that ship products to other countries.

Machinery and computer equipment manufacturers represent the largest export industry, by producing about one-third of all district manufactured exports. Machinery and computer equipment is the top category in all district states except for Montana, where exports from primary metal industries experienced strong growth in 1996.

Measuring instruments and medical goods and electrical equipment are among the top six industries in four district states. These numbers indicate that the region is increasingly specializing in industries with a high technology component, supported by a workforce trained in computers, robotics, engineering and other high-skill areas.

Overall, Montana and North Dakota exports grew faster than the previous nine-year trend (the time from which the accompanying data was available), by 55 percent and 28 percent respectively, while Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin grew between 6 percent and 9 percent, somewhat slower than the previous nine years.

Exports to Canada and Europe, the district's two largest destinations, grew above the previous nine-year trend in Montana and North Dakota, while all states experienced significant increases to some emerging countries. Areas of growth that nearly doubled or more include exports from:

  • Montana to Mexico and the Pacific Islands,
  • North Dakota to Africa and the Pacific Islands,
  • South Dakota to Southeast Asia and Central America, and
  • Wisconsin to the Middle East.

Export industries have a strong potential for expansion in developing countries since district companies are just beginning to send products to these areas. Nevertheless, it appears that Canada and Europe will remain the backbone for Ninth District exports.