Idaho Exports Expanding

With each passing year, Idaho’s economy becomes more integrated in the global market. The impact that international trade has on Idaho’s economy is measured by the increase in its foreign trade partners, the growth of total exports, the jobs exports create and wage improvements attributed to foreign sales. Identifying these trends can shed light on how Idaho’s economy is being shaped by the global market.

Countries that Import Idaho Goods

Since 2001, Idaho has sold goods to 213 countries – an average of 153 countries every year. In recent years, Canada has been the largest importer of Idaho goods, buying close to $1.6 billion in 2013. Over the past decade, Canada has imported an average of $1 billion a year from Idaho.

While Idaho deals with a large number of countries each year, the majority of the state’s exports are consumed by a small number of countries. The 10 top importing countries in 2013 were Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan and France. Since 2004, these countries have imported 83 percent of Idaho’s foreign sales. Idaho Exports by CountryGrowing Exports

Idaho’s exports have seen rapid growth since the turn of the century. From 2001 to 2013, Idaho’s gross product grew 64.5 percent, an average of 4.2 percent a year. Idaho’s exports, however, grew significantly faster. In 2001, Idaho exported $2.1 billion in goods. By 2013, exports had increased to $5.8 billion – a 172 percent increase, or an average 8.7 percent a year.

Share of Gross Product

Further evidence of the rapid growth of Idaho’s exports is their increased share of total gross product. In 2001, Idaho exports accounted for 5.6 percent of the state’s gross product. In 2013, they climbed to 9.3 percent. The peak was in 2012 at 10.5 percent. Gross product is also reduced by the value of imports, but that value is not available for individual states.

exports as percent of GDP

The growth of Idaho’s exports as a percentage of gross product also saw improvement on the national level. In 2001, when exports accounted for 5.6 percent of the state’s total gross product, Idaho ranked 19th in the nation. By 2013, Idaho’s rank improved to 14th nationally. Much of the growth in Idaho’s exports has been driven by the growth in manufacturing.

Top Industries that Export

Nine of Idaho’s 10 biggest exporting industries involve manufacturing. In 2013, manufactured computer and electronic products alone generated more than $2.7 billion, or 48 percent of Idaho’s total export sales.

Idaho Exports by IndustryWhile 28 Idaho industries sold goods in foreign markets in 2013, manufacturing accounted for 92 percent of total exports. The only nonmanufacturing industry in the top 10 was agricultural products, which accounted for 5 percent of foreign sales.

Economic Impact

The International Trade Administration found that Idaho exports supported approximately 26,000 jobs in 2013 – 4.1 percent of the state’s total employment – and that 1,757 Idaho companies exported goods outside the United States in 2012.

Export-supported jobs

The average value added to the economy per job supported by Idaho exports in 2013 was $223,077 – the total exports divided by jobs supported by exports. The economic value per job not linked to exports was $98,753 – total gross product divided by total employment. Idaho’s export-supported jobs added $124,398 more per job than non-export jobs.

average value added tableJobs supported by exports are significantly more valuable to the overall economy, in part due to generally higher wages paid by many of Idaho’s exporting industries.

Average Wage

In 2013, the average wage for all jobs was $36,829 in Idaho. The average wage paid among Idaho’s largest exporting industries was $52,900, 44 percent higher. During the past 10 years, wages paid by Idaho’s top exporting industries have been roughly 38 percent higher than the state’s overall average wage.

Idaho’s top exporting industries also have seen faster wage growth than the statewide average. Over the past decade, the average wage for Idaho’s top exporting industries grew 29 percent while Idaho’s average wage for all industries grew 23 percent.


The overall health and strength of Idaho’s economy depends on its ability to maintain and increase its market share in foreign trade. Expanding the number of trading partners and the variety of products exported will help hedge against future economic instability and lay the foundation for growth in jobs and wages., regional economist
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