Exports loom large for Indiana's economic vitality, future

08 Feb 2017 12:24 PM | John Ketzenberger (Administrator)

Debates over trade policy may seem remote here in the Midwest, but a recent report by the Brookings Institution shows Indiana’s at the issue’s epicenter.


Turns out there is a reason Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger worked so hard to gain passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership the last two years. The Brookings report ranks Columbus, Ind. as the most export-intensive city in the United States. Exports from businesses in the south-central Indiana manufacturing hub account for 50.6 percent of its economic activity. Exports directly support nearly 5,100 jobs in Columbus, according to the report, and more than 15,580 jobs indirectly.


Not only is Columbus No. 1, three other Indiana cities are ranked in the top 10. Elkhart is fourth on the list, Kokomo is fifth and Lafayette is sixth.


City

Exports

GDP Share

Direct Jobs

Indirect Jobs

Columbus, IN

$2.8B

50.6%

5,092

15,589

Beaumont, TX

$23.6B

40.0%

8,698

33,197

Lake Charles, LA

$6.5B

36.9%

4,361

16,583

Elkhart, IN

$5.0B

34.5%

12,002

30,326

Kokomo, IN

$1.5B

34.1%

2,364

7,718

Lafayette, IN

$3.2B

30.9%

6,313

17,986

Decatur, AL

$1.7B

29.1%

2,602

7,868

Fond du Lac, WI

$1.2B

25.1%

2,628

7,258

Baton Rouge, LA

$12.9B

24.3%

13,309

42,306

Spartanburg, SC

$3.3B

24.1%

8,013

19,080

Source: Brookings Institution


This shows global trade isn’t a simple issue, but the report went a step further. “No clean political divide separates trade-oriented counties from others,” the report noted. “A look at the nation’s aggregate 2015 export volume shows that, while 58 percent of exports emanated from counties that voted for Hillary Clinton, fully 42 percent shipped out of counties won by Trump.”


In fact, the counties that voted for Trump tended to be more export-intensive than those that voted for Clinton. “The clear takeaway,” the Brookings report concludes, “President Trump’s campaign to remake the nation’s global trade relationships will not be a remote or academic affair—it will have real implications for regional economies. And while the benefits or disruptions of change will affect some places more than others, all of America—big-city metros and small-town or rural; red and blue; coastal or in-between—has a stake in what happens.”


Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute

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