The Most Profitable Industry in Your State Might Surprise You

See which industry is bringing in the big bucks for your state.

In many states, the most profitable industry is quite stereotypical such as Michigan and the automotive industry. In many others, though, the most lucrative industry might not be what you’d first think, like aerospace in Kentucky.

GOBankingRates conducted a new study to find the most profitable industry in each U.S. state — and there are several themes that stand out. Automotive, aerospace and mineral products tend to be the most lucrative industries. Another notable pattern is the profitability of industries connected to healthcare. The precision instrument industry, for example, is fueled by a variety of medical and diagnostic products, each with exorbitant price tags.

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On a broader level, industries related to the production of electronics are major sources of profit. With the ubiquity of mobile phones and devices, and with no reason for that to end, the machinery and mechanical appliances industry is the most profitable in several states.

Keep in mind: The most profitable industry does not equal the biggest industry. By the standards of biggest or largest, most states would be a boring mix of healthcare or retail.


Here are the top five states ranked by their main industry’s profitability:

  1. Texas – Mineral Products
  2. Washington – Aerospace
  3. California – Machinery and Mechanical Appliances
  4. New York – Precious Metals, Stones, etc.
  5. Louisiana – Mineral Products

Mineral products include major fossil fuels like coal and oil. The latter is the primary reason it’s the most lucrative industry in Texas and Louisiana, where oil fields on land and in the Gulf of Mexico fuel their economies. New York’s precious metal and stones industry is driven by diamonds and other jewelry products. In other states, the precious metal industry is the most profitable due to non-jewelry applications.

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Check out the full list of states below, their most profitable industry and the value of the industry’s top-selling products represented in millions of U.S. dollars:

StateIndustryValue of Industry’s Top Products (in millions)
ArizonaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$4,270
CaliforniaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$26,823
FloridaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$7,576
IdahoMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,309
IllinoisMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$5,751
LouisianaMineral Products$23,327
MassachusettsPrecision Instruments$3,199
MinnesotaPrecision Instruments$2,417
MississippiMineral Products$3,076
MontanaMineral Products$256
NevadaAccommodation and Food Services$20,027
New HampshireMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,685
New JerseyPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$2,624
New MexicoMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,835
New YorkPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$25,059
North CarolinaPharmaceutical$3,698
North DakotaMineral Products$3,074
OklahomaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,167
OregonMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$10,125
PennsylvaniaMineral Products$3,672
Rhode IslandPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$669
South CarolinaAutomotive$10,107
South DakotaMeat$223
TennesseePrecision Instruments$3,425
TexasMineral Products$73,603
UtahPrecious Metals, Stones, etc.$3,714
VermontMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,640
VirginiaMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,459
West VirginiaMineral Products$3,302
WisconsinMachinery and Mechanical Appliances$1,538
WyomingChemicals & Allied Industries$951

Click through to learn about the most valuable public company in every state.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the most profitable industry based on the value of industry products, in millions of U.S. dollars, sourced from U.S. Census Bureau 2017 data; industries were defined using Harmonized System (HS) codes.