Export Nation 2013

Strong export performance over the past several years has played a central role in the ongoing economic recovery in the United States, particularly in the largest metro areas. The top 100 metro areas alone account for 64 percent of the nation’s total exports and all but one of the top 100 metros saw an increase in exports from 2003 to 2012. While growth has been strong, the United States is more than $200 billion below the administration’s goal to double exports in five years. Only 12 of the top 100 metro areas have maintained the 15 percent annual growth rate required to double exports, suggesting that there is significant potential for the expansion of exports at the metro level. Click here for the full report (PDF).

Use the interactive below to see how your metro region performed, and click here to download state profiles (ZIP). This report is a part of the Global Cities Initiative.

The metro area exports map

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Limit analysis to the 100 largest metro areas by population

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Distribution of {{rankOutOf}} metro areas
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Top ranked

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By the numbers

Exports in 2012

In 2012, the total value of exports from {{cityname}} stood at {{overallData['mrx2012'] | numformatting:'dollmill'}} or {{overallData['mxgdp2012'] | numformatting:'percent'}} of all output.

This ranked the region {{rank_mrx2012 | numformatting:'rank'}} of {{rankOutOf}} metro areas on the total value of its exports and {{rank_mxgdp2012 | numformatting:'rank'}} on exports intensity.

Inflation-adjusted changes

2003–12: {{overallData['mrx20032012'] | numformatting:'_percent'}} (rank: {{rank_mrx20032012 | numformatting:'rank'}}/{{rankOutOf}})

2003–08: {{overallData['mrx20032008'] | numformatting:'_percent'}} (rank: {{rank_mrx20032008 | numformatting:'rank'}}/{{rankOutOf}})

2009–12: {{overallData['mrx20092012'] | numformatting:'_percent'}} (rank: {{rank_mrx20092012 | numformatting:'rank'}}/{{rankOutOf}})

Share of exports value by industry, 2012

Key Findings

An analysis of key export trends between 2003 and 2012 for the 100 largest metro areas finds that:


  • Exports drove post-recession growth in the 100 largest metro areas.

  • Few metro areas are on track to achieve the NEI goal of doubling exports in five years.

  • The 10 largest metro areas, by export volume, produced 28 percent of U.S. exports in 2012.

  • Two-thirds of the largest metro areas underperform the United States as a whole on export intensity.

  • The most export-intensive metro areas are highly specialized in certain industries.

  • Metro areas whose export intensity grew fastest experienced higher economic growth.

  • Metro area manufacturing exports grew to record levels in 2012.

  • Services accounted for more than half of post-recession export growth in 11 metros, including San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York. 

  • Certain industries, especially in the services sector, produce almost all of their exports in the top 100 metro areas.

  • Both highly specialized and highly diversified metros performed well from 2003 to 2012.