U.S. Exporters (and Exports) Increased in 2010, Up 6 Percent from 2009

April 17, 2012

Natalie Soroka is an economist in the Office of Trade and Industry Information within the International Trade Administration where she focuses on international trade statistics and trends.

Last week the Census Bureau released, A Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies, 2009-2010, which provides information on U.S. companies that can be linked to import or export transactions (otherwise referred to as “identified” companies). In 2010, more than 293,000 U.S. companies exported goods, nearly 16,500 more than exported in 2009.  These companies exported $1.1 trillion in goods in 2010, up 21 percent from 2009. Most of these exporters (266,400 or 91 percent) were single location companies, however the remaining 9 percent of companies that operated from multiple locations accounted for 75 percent of the “known export value” (the value of export transactions that can be tied to specific companies).Graph showing the number of companies that only export (212,419), only import (101,008) or both (80,640)

What do these companies export? Manufacturers accounted for the largest portion of known value in 2010 (60 percent). In addition, the top 50 manufacturers accounted for 43 percent of the entire sector’s known export value. This is higher than the share represented by the top 50 wholesalers (36 percent) and other companies (37 percent) in their respective sectors. Large companies dominate manufacturers’ exports, with 3 percent of manufacturing exporters accounting for 81 percent of manufacturing export value.

On the import side, the number of importers also increased from 2009, up to more than 181,600 businesses. It should be noted that importers and exporters are not mutually exclusive. Of the more than 394,000 companies engaged in trade, more than a fifth (80,640) both exported and imported goods in 2010.

Like exports, while most importers operate from a single location (90 percent), it is the few multiple location companies that account for most (76 percent) of the known import value. Importers also tend to be slightly more concentrated towards the top firms than exporters.

However, international trade isn’t only a big guy’s game. Small and medium-sized companies (those with fewer than 500 employees), or “SMEs”, accounted for 98 percent of all identified exporters in 2010 and 34 percent of known export value.  While they may only contribute 19 percent of the sector’s $683 billion in exports, 97 percent of manufacturing exporters are SMEs. As for wholesalers, SMEs accounted for 62 percent of the sector’s $268 billion in exports.

Unlike previous versions of the Profile, this version includes information on SME companies by 3-digit North American Industry Classification (NAICS) code. In 2010, merchant wholesalers of durable goods comprised both the largest number of SME exporters (60,571) and the highest known export value among these industries ($91 billion).

As for our export and import markets, more than half of identified companies exported to or imported from only one foreign market, and 82 percent of exporters and 90 percent of importers traded with one of the top 25 U.S. trading partners. Exports to Canada, the largest market in 2010, also showed the highest increase in known dollar value compared to 2009 (up $34 billion). On the import side, China was the largest supplier for U.S. importers as well as showed the highest growth in known value, increasing by $66 billion in 2010.

On a state level, Texas, California, New York, Washington, and Florida together accounted for 43 percent of known exports.  Similarly, California, Texas, New Jersey, New York and Illinois accounted for half of the known import value in 2010. Many states posted increases in 2010, with Maine showing the highest increase in known export value (up 46 percent) and New Mexico showing the highest increase in known import value (up 55 percent).

More information and the full profile are both available on the Office of Trade and Industry Information website.

%d bloggers like this: