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Largest industries by state, 1990–2013

July 28, 2014

In 1990, the manufacturing industry was the leading employer in most U.S. states, followed by retail trade. In 2003, retail trade was the leading employer in a majority of states. By 2013, health care and social assistance was the dominant industry in 34 states. This animated map shows the top industry in each state and the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2013.

Major industries with highest employment, by state  
Hover over a state to see information.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment in manufacturing declined steadily over the 1990–2013 period. By the mid-1990s, retail trade had become the leading employer in a number of states, and health care and social assistance was emerging as the largest employer in a few. Health care and social assistance became the largest industry in New York State in 1992, and in North Dakota in 1995.

The largest increase in healthcare and social assistance employment in the states occurred in 2009, as retail trade, manufacturing, and other industries showed declines with the onset of the most recent recession. Manufacturing remained the top employer in Michigan until 2009, when it was replaced by health care and social assistance; in 2013, however, manufacturing returned as the largest employer in Michigan.

The accommodation and food services industry was the leading employer in Nevada and Hawaii throughout the 1990–2013 period, and professional, scientific, and technical services remained the top industry in the District of Columbia.

These data are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program. For industry employment and wage data at the national, state, county, and metropolitan area levels, access the data search tool. The analysis for this edition of The Editor’s Desk was conducted by Frances Osei-Bonsu, a Denison University student who recently served an internship at the BLS Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Philadelphia.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Largest industries by state, 1990–2013 at (visited July 13, 2024).

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