September 17, 2013 / 8:14 PM / in 5 years

Biggest 100 metro areas account for most U.S. exports: Brookings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas accounted for 64 percent of the country’s exports in 2012, with Los Angeles in the top position after it exported $93.87 billion worth of goods and services, according to a new study released on Tuesday.

Shipping containers are seen at the Port Newark Container Terminal near New York City July 2, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based research group that monitors city economic conditions, said the Los Angeles area accounted for 12 percent of all U.S. exports alone. The L.A. area includes the ports of Long Beach and Hollywood, which produces much of the U.S. entertainment industry’s output.

New York, with its large financial services sector and major port, was second with $88.56 billion of exports, followed by Houston at $77.77 billion. Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, Detroit, Boston, and San Jose rounded out the list of metropolitan areas with more than $34 billion in exports.

Metropolitan areas usually include at least one large city and its surrounding suburbs.

Altogether, manufacturing exports from the largest 100 metropolitan areas reached record highs in 2012, according to Brookings.

The Brookings report did not give the percentage of Americans who live in the 100 largest metro areas, but according to the U.S. Census more than 80 percent of Americans live in urbanized areas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has said that more than 80 percent of all U.S. jobs are in metropolitan areas.

Seeking relief from the devastation the 2007-09 recession caused in their budgets, many cities are sending missions to other countries in the hopes of boosting trade and attracting employers. While exports accounted for 37 percent of growth in output nationally from 2009 to 2012, they contributed 54 percent of output growth for the 100 largest metropolitan areas, according to Brookings.

    Meanwhile, U.S. export prices fell for the sixth straight month in August, mostly due to a sharp decline in the farm sector.

    The concentration of trade in a few metropolitan areas means some areas are falling behind, Brookings added. The top 10 areas accounted for more than a quarter of metropolitan exports. Brookings found that places where exporting grew more intensely between 2003 and 2012 also experienced the fastest economic growth.

    At the same time, few areas are on track to reach the goal set by President Barack Obama’s administration to double U.S. exports in five years. Only 12 areas have maintained the 15 percent annual growth rate it would take achieve that expansion, according to Brookings.

    Los Angeles has long been the capital of the U.S. entertainment industry, and Brookings found film and music royalties were the area’s largest category of service exports. But they came in second in terms of the area’s total exports of goods and services, accounting for 7.4 percent.

    West of the fabled film studios, aerospace companies such as Raytheon (RTN.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) have had large presences for decades, and aircraft products and parts made up the largest share of the area’s exports, 9.9 percent, followed by petroleum and coal products at 7.3 percent.

    In New York, home to Wall Street, financial services accounted for the largest proportion of service exports, 15 percent. Pharmaceuticals were the most exported good, 8.1 percent.

    Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by David Gregorio

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