Trade activity varies greatly across the U.S. A recent article in The Regional Economist examined some of the different patterns, focusing on the states comprising the Eighth Federal Reserve District.1
The authors, Economist Maximiliano Dvorkin and Senior Research Associate Hannah Shell, noted: “Understanding the regional characteristics of production and trade is important to gauge, for example, the effects of an increase in Chinese imports on local labor markets or the effects of a European recession on the auto industry.”
In 2014, the U.S. imported $7,362 and exported $5,082 of goods per capita.2 As a whole, Eighth District states were similar, but slightly less active in terms of trade; the average state in the District imported $7,023 and exported $4,348 of goods per capita.
Despite the similarities overall, distribution of trade across the Eighth District states varied considerably. For example, Illinois and Tennessee both imported more than $10,000 per capita.
The authors focused on the U.S.’s top four trading partners: Canada, Mexico, the European Union (EU) and China.3
The U.S. imported more from China than from the other three areas, at $1,464 per capita. It also exported less to China than to its other major trading partners, at $388 per capita.
As a whole, the Eighth District states imported more per capita from China than from the other three areas and even imported more than the national average ($1,652 versus $1,464).
Among District states, Tennessee imported the most from China ($3,868 per capita), while Missouri imported the least ($751 per capita). On average, Eighth District states exported $260 per capita to China. Kentucky exported more to China than any other Eighth District state at $375 per capita. Missouri exported the least at $144 per capita.
The U.S. and the Eighth District states both imported more per capita from the EU than any other area except China. The U.S. imported $1,312 per capita, and the Eighth District states imported $1,440 per capita, on average. Within the Eighth District, Indiana imported the most at $2,438 per capita, and Missouri imported the least at $557 per capita.
The EU was also second behind only Canada in terms of exports from the U.S. ($866 per capita) and the Eighth District states ($841 per capita). Kentucky exported the most to the EU, at $1,752 per capita. Missouri exported the least at $360 per capita.
As with China and the EU, Eighth District states as a whole imported more per capita from Canada than the U.S. national average ($1,115 versus $1,091). Illinois imported the most at $3,529 per capita, far higher than the amount imported from any other nation examined. Arkansas imported the least at $307 per capita.
Eighth District states also exported more per capita to Canada than the national average ($1,226 versus $980). Indiana exported the most to Canada among Eighth District states at $1,856 per capita, while Arkansas exported the least at $480 per capita.
Among the nations studied, the U.S. and the Eighth District imported the least from Mexico. The U.S. brought in $922 per capita, while the Eighth District brought in $822 per capita. Kentucky imported the most among Eighth District states at $1,246 per capita, while Arkansas imported the least at $203 per capita.
The U.S. exported $753 per capita to Mexico in 2014, while the Eighth District states averaged $524 per capita. Indiana exported the most among Eighth District states at $761 per capita, and Arkansas exported the least at $249 per capita.
1 The Eighth District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. For this article, entire states were considered, not just the portions of states belonging to the Eighth District.
2 In their analysis, the authors used data from the Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics for 2014.
3 Japan is actually a larger trading partner with the U.S. than any individual European nation. When the European Union is taken as a whole, however, its trade with the U.S. exceeds that of Japan.