What Are The Biggest Industries In Delaware?

Aerial view of a fishing port in Delaware. Fishing is a very important industry in the state.
Aerial view of a fishing port in Delaware. Fishing is a very important industry in the state.

Delaware is a state in the southern region of the United States. It occupies the northwestern part of the Delmarva Peninsula. Delaware is the second-smallest state, covering an area of approximately 1,982 square miles. Although Delaware is small in area, it is one of the most prosperous states in the country. The state’s economy greatly benefits from the large urban market nearby. For much of the 19th and 20th century, manufacturing was the largest industry in Delaware. However, in the late 1990s, the finance sector contributed the largest share of the economy. The majority of the people are employed in government agencies, service industries, and commerce while the unemployment rate is 5.1% (as of October 2015). Here are some of the biggest industries in Delaware.


Agriculture is one of the most thriving industries in Delaware, thanks to farming. The industry is estimated to worth around $8 billion. There are approximately 2,500 farms spread across over 510,000 acres of agricultural land. About 85% of the farmland is used to raise crops while the rest is for pasture and woodlot. Field crops generate 19% of the farm income. Corn is the most grown crop, occupying about 40% of the total cultivated land. However, broilers are the most profitable products in the state. They are commercially raised throughout the state, especially in Kent and Sussex counties. The northern part of Delaware is known for dairy production and a major source of milk for cities such as Philadelphia and Wilmington. Potatoes and peas are the most valuable vegetable crops. Soy and wheat are also grown in many farms across the state.


Delaware’s economy is strongly surviving on the sea. The state has one of the leading fishing industries in the US and has progressively developed catch management policies and seafood processing technologies in a bid to increase income from the water. Being a coastal location, the fishing market is expanding every day.  The commercial fishing industry boasts of a long and profitable history Delaware’s estuary supports the largest commercial American sturgeon and stud fisheries along the Atlantic coast. The estuary is home to over 200 fish species and shellfish. The fishing industry contributes about $34 million annually to the state’s economy. Apart from the ocean, the Delaware River is also a great source of fish, especially the blue crab. Delaware is one of the top producers of blue crab. In 2011, the state produced 3.5 million pounds of blue crabs from the Delaware River.


Delaware’s manufacturing sector is the state’s second-largest traded sector. The manufacturing sector consists of a variety of industries including food processing, chemicals, bioscience, and more. Over 25,000 residents of Delaware and their families rely on this sector for jobs and income with many manufacturers working with technical institutions to train and develop the workforce. These manufacturers account for 6.3% of the total output and 5.9% of the total workforce in the state. In 2018, the output from the sector was $4.7 billion. In the same years, manufactured goods worth $4.4 billion were exported to the international market. The top five export markets for Delaware’s manufactured goods were Canada, the UK, China, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia. Delaware is particularly attractive for manufacturers because of the competitive tax rate compared to other states in the region. Its proximity to major airports with domestic and international cargo capabilities is also an added advantage.


Tourism is a crucial part of Delaware’s economy. It is the fourth-largest private industry sector in the state, employing almost 45,000 people. The tourism industry is an important source of revenue for both local and state governments. The number of people visiting Delaware has been on the increase with a record of 9 million visitors in 2017. Those visitors contributed about $3.3 billion to the state’s GDP. Tourism generates an average of $500 million in taxes and fees every year for the state and local government. To boost the sector, the Delaware Tourism Office is conducting successful, integrated marketing campaigns highlighting what the state has to offer. Metros are the biggest source of visitors for Delaware, with people from neighboring states such as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington DC accounting for over 50% of the visitors. Other attractions include beaches and tax-free shopping.


The financial sector is one of the backbone sectors of the economy of Delaware. The industry has undergone so many transformations, acquisitions, and mergers that have resulted in the growth of small finance and insurance businesses. The financial sector in Delaware has a workforce of about 48,000 people distributed across different firms. It is projected that the employment in Delaware’s financial service industry will grow 8.4% compared to the nation’s 1.6% between 2015 and 2020. The state has one of the fastest-growing fintech sectors in the country, with fintech companies making major moves in the state. Delaware is also America’s credit card capital. The financial community is also keeping an eye on cryptocurrency and blockchains among other new technologies.


Minerals play an important role in the economy of Delaware. However, the mined production is not accurately measured. According to estimates, the mineral sector contributes about $1 billion to the US Bureau of Mines. The mineral resources of Delaware are broadly divided into four categories; heavy mineral sand, construction minerals, glauconite, and other potential minerals such as oil and gas. According to the United States Geological Survey, Delaware has 14 recorded mines. Most of these mines are located in New Castle and Sussex. The most common minerals in Delaware are aluminum, iron, and chromium. The earliest recorded mining activity in the state was the extraction of iron ore in the Iron Hill region in 1703.

Other Industries In Delaware

Apart from the industries above, the economy of Delaware is also supported but other significantly important industries. The construction industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state because of the demand for more housing and the growth of real estate. Another important industry is retail trade. Retail is one of the largest private-sector employers in Delaware, creating opportunities around the state. On average, retail shops in Delaware bring in $1,192 in revenue and process about 15 transactions in a day.


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