What Are The Biggest Industries In Arizona?

Aerial view of industrial area in Tempe, Arizona.
Aerial view of industrial area in Tempe, Arizona.

Arizona is the 5th largest of the 50 states of the United States. It is also the 14th most populous of the states. Arizona’s economy is moderately diverse, although largely a service economy. Healthcare, government, and transportation are the largest sectors. This article covers four of the largest industries in Arizona.

Service Industry

Like most states in the US, Arizona generates most of its revenue from the service industry. This industry of Arizona comprises of the government, trade, transport and utilities, education and health, professional and business/ financial services, hospitality and leisure among other services.

The total employment in Arizona in 2016 was at 2,379,409, with the largest employer being the state’s government. Excluding agriculture, the top employment sectors in Arizona are trade, transportation, and utilities, the government, education and health services, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and financial activities just to mention a few. The government provided services include military establishments, public hospitals and schools, and Indian reservations.

Personal, community and business services include law firms, hotels, and resorts, private healthcare and repair shops. The state’s largest private employer is Banner Health. This firm employed over 39,000 employees in 2016. Other private employers include Walmart Stores, Inc. a discount retailer, the Kroger Company which owns grocery stores and McDonald's Corporation, an American fast-food company.

Tourism contributes significantly to Arizona’s economy. The climate and scenery of the country attract millions of tourists and the state is also a popular center for retirement. Whereas the Northern part of the country is known for its desert climate, the southern part comprises mountain ranges, plateaus, large deep canyons and forests of Douglas fir, pine, and spruce. Ski resorts are located in the areas of Tucson, Flagstaff, and Alpine. The hotels and resorts in Arizona receive much business from tourists during winter. Arizona is home to one of the world's seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon National Park as well as other national parks, national forests and national monuments.

Manufacturing Industry

In Arizona, high technology advancements and new technologies occur at a very fast speed. The state is home to thousands of vast and varied manufacturers including the world’s leading high-tech manufacturing companies. Arizona's manufacturing sectors produce computer and electronic products, aerospace and other transportation equipment, food, beverage and tobacco products, fabricated metal products, chemicals, non-metallic mineral products, machinery, motor vehicles and parts and primary metals.

Of these, the most important manufactured goods are computers and electronic components. Big industries such as Microchip, Intel, Raytheon, Honeywell and JDA Software manufacture in Arizona.

Transportation equipment manufactured in Arizona include helicopters, aerospace vehicles, turbine engines, and guided missiles.

Other from the manufacturing industry in Arizona are chemicals, food products such as dairy products, animal feeds, baked goods and soft drinks, machinery and fabricated metal products such as sheet and structural metals, door and window frames.

Arizona’s manufacturing industry drives its economy. Manufactured goods account for 8.61% of the total output of the state. Besides, the manufacturing industry of Arizona employs 5.96% of the workforce. In 2018, the total output from the manufacturing industry in the country was $29.86 billion. The same year, the export of the manufactured goods in the country amounted to $19.36 billion. The major export markets for the manufactured goods of Arizona include Mexico, Canada, China, the UK, and Germany.


With the diverse ecosystem, the weather and soil in some areas of Arizona have allowed agricultural activities to take place. Agriculture in Arizona involves crop and livestock production. Farmland in Arizona is approximately 26.2 acres. Many of these farms are located in the rural areas of Arizona. The top 5 agricultural products include cattle and calves, vegetables, greenhouse/nursery products, dairy products, and cotton.

The biggest crop is lettuce, with Arizona ranking 2nd in the US in the production of lettuce. The country is also ranked 10th in cotton production in the US. Other crops include cantaloupes, wheat, barley, citrus, and potatoes. The citrus and the cotton industry have predated Arizona’s economy for decades and are among the state’s iconic 5 Cs. The other 3 C’s stand for cattle, climate, and copper. Important agricultural exports in Arizona include cotton, dairy products, and fresh produce.

Regarding livestock production, beef cattle and calves are the leading sources of revenue. Hogs and sheep are also reared in the country. The country also earns its revenue from poultry products and eggs.

Mining Industry

The Arizona mining industry is diversified. The industry remains an economic goldmine. Early in history, the economy of Arizona relied heavily on the 5C’s, copper being one of them. Today, copper remains the most important mined product in Arizona’s economy. Copper is still extensively mined in Arizona, accounting for 65% of all US copper. Additionally, Arizona is the 6th largest producer of copper in the world.

Greater Arizona has 27 major mines where apart from copper, other minerals such as gold, silver, molybdenum, gravel, uranium, zinc, mercury, tungsten, lime, coal and cement are mined. Arizona mines account for $4.87 billion impacts on its economy.

Also, Arizona has deposits of other minerals such as gypsum, helium, natural gas, and oil.

It is estimated that the Holbrook basin of east-central Arizona has up to 2.27 billion metric tons of potash, a vital crop nutrient. Potash is also mined in Northern Arizona. This mineral supports agricultural food supply and mining markets. Potash also has other industrial uses in electroplating, recycling aluminum and producing oil.

What Is The Future Of Arizona’s Biggest Industry?

In recent decades, Arizona’s industries have shifted from the primary production of crops and livestock, mineral extraction and lumbering towards the service and the manufacturing industries. With the Phoenix era in which a vibrant high-tech economy has arisen, the country’s economy is only expected to grow further. As big innovative industry leaders and manufacturers continue to manufacture in Arizona, the country will soon become a manufacturing revolution.


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