2nd Quarter 2016


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Geography [ Maps ]



We use Commerce Department data to examine the location of Tennessee's manufacturing exporters.

Locating Tennessee Manufacturers That Export

Just under 3,000 Tennessee manufacturers exported in 2014.
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The Commerce Department recently released its 2014 exporter database. This includes a breakdown of the location of every American firm that exported during the year. Here we use this data to examine the geographical location of Tennessee's manufacturing exporters. One can argue manufacturing firms are particularly important for assessing the export performance of a region or locale. First, the large majority of exports come straight from manufacturing operations. About 60% of the value of national exports comes directly from manufacturers (as opposed to wholesalers, trading firms, and other types of exporters). Second, for manufacturing, the economic activity associated with exporting can be clearly assigned to the local community where the manufacturer is located. Other types of exporting firms may be shipping goods fabricated at some distance from the firm itself.

Just under 3,000 Tennessee manufacturers exported in 2014. That number increased by 64 firms from 2013. (This is net. In any given year, there are new exporters but also previous exporters that did not ship anything overseas that year.) About 40 percent of all Tennessee exporters are manufacturers, which is actually significantly higher than for the U.S. generally. Nationally only about a quarter of exporting firms are manufacturers. This is another sign that the state economy is unusually "invested" in manufacturing.