A new post at the Pew FactTank takes a different approach to looking at trade and the potential impacts from changes to NAFTA. While their Export Monitor report examines the export volume and makeup of various metro areas, this blog instead looks at which counties have the highest share of their GDP made up of exports.
These export-dependent places tend to be small rural or suburban counties with a single dominant industry. That industry is often tied to a major manufacturer or resource deposit. Most export-dependent counties are east of the continental divide, with just 7 located in Western States (8 if you count eastern New Mexico) and several western states completely devoid of counties where exports make up 25% or more of GDP. Two of those 7 are Nevada’s Lander and Eureka counties.
Some of the state’s largest gold mines are located in or right next to these counties, which also lack the diversity that may be found in Elko County to the northeast. Higher precious-metals prices have increased export growth in many resource-rich counties. According to Pew, 17 of the 30 counties with the highest annualized real export growth rates between 2003 and 2016 were driven by mining, oil and gas extraction.
Changes to trade agreements could have disproportionate impacts on these counties. Here’s a chart showing the most export-reliant counties (NV didn’t make these lists):