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What Are The Biggest Industries In Pennsylvania?

By Geoffrey Migiro January 22 2020

Skyline of downtown Pittsburgh at sunrise.
Skyline of downtown Pittsburgh at sunrise.

Pennsylvania is the fifth most populous American state that is situated in the Great Lakes, Northeastern, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the country. It is the thirty-third largest U.S. state by area, which occupies an area of about 46,055sq miles. It is surrounded by New York, New Jersey, Lake Erie, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Ontario, Canada. Pennsylvania has a 400miles long shoreline along River Delaware and Lake Erie. Pennsylvania is the ninth most densely populated American state with a population density of about 284individuals per sq miles. Philadelphia is Pennsylvania’s most populous city, while Harrisburg is its state capital. Pennsylvania is one of the 13original American states.

The Economy Of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s total GSP (gross-state-product) of 2018 ($803billion) is ranked sixth in the United States. If this state were a country, it would have had the sixteenth largest economy on the planet. Pennsylvania had the twenty-second biggest per-capita GSP in 2016 of $50,665. There were 301,484 employer establishments in Pennsylvania in 2016, which provided over 5,354,964 jobs. Philadelphia, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Erie, and Pittsburgh are the urban manufacturing centers of Pennsylvania. The fact that a considerable percentage of Pennsylvania is rural affects the state’s economy.

Pennsylvania is home to 50 Fortune-500 companies, and this includes the 6 firms in Philadelphia and 8 in Pittsburgh. Some of the Fortune-500 firms found in Pittsburg include H.J. Heinz. The Fortune-500 companies in Philadelphia are situated in the suburbs like the King-of-Prussia. GE Transportation, the biggest train producer in the country, is located in Erie. Just like in the entire country, Walmart is the biggest private employer in Pennsylvania, followed by Pennsylvania University. Pennsylvania is home to The York-Water Company (the oldest American investor-owned utility company).

The Biggest Industries In Pennsylvania

Agriculture

Agriculture has been a significant part of Pennsylvania’s economy since 1682, when the state was established. Agriculture in Pennsylvania was started by the Monongahela and Lenape Native American peoples. The Lenape people grew corn in Delaware while the Monongahela people grew squash, corn, and beans in the Upper Ohio Valley. The German settlers who settled in York County and Lancaster County continued developing agriculture in Pennsylvania. As the settlement era continued, agriculture became part of rural living, with most people converting it into a source of income.

Currently, agriculture is one of the leading industries in Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture of 2012, Pennsylvania had about 59,309farms. All the farms occupied an area of about 7,704,444acres with an average of 130acres per farm. Agriculture is prominent in the rural parts of Pennsylvania, particularly in York, Lancaster, and Berks counties. Pennsylvania is the nineteenth biggest agricultural producer in the United States. It is the leading mushroom producer (supplied 63.8% mushrooms sold in the country during 2015-16). It is ranked seventh in winemaking, fifth in grapes production, and fourth in apple farming. Other crops grown in Pennsylvania include corn, wheat, oats, sorghum, soybeans, barley, tobacco, potatoes orchards, sweet potatoes, and beans, among others. Livestock farming contributed about 68% of the state’s farm income and is a significant part of the agricultural industry. Pennsylvania is one of the leading producers of milk, eggs, and beef cattle in the United States. The agricultural industry of Pennsylvania provided jobs to over 66,800people who were working in the food-processing industry. The agricultural sector managed to export goods worth $1.7billion in 2011. 

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry accounted for 11.89% of the total output in Pennsylvania in 2018 and employed over 9.47% of the total labor force. The total output of the manufacturing sector in 2018 was $93.75billion. There were over 569,000employees in Pennsylvania with an annual income of $73,730 in 2017. Some of the leading sectors in the manufacturing industry in 2017 were chemicals, food processing, fabricated metal products, machinery, and electronic products and computers. The manufacturing industry exported over $35.84billion worth of goods in 2018.

Pennsylvania is home to some of the top producers of aspirin and prescription drugs in the country. Other chemicals produced in this state include synthetic resin, petrochemicals, and paint. Pennsylvania is the leader in processed foods in the country. Food processing is the second biggest manufacturing sector. Some of the most crucial food products manufactured here include sausages, crackers and cookies, cakes, bread, and beer, among others. Pennsylvania is the leading producer of canned mushrooms, pretzels, potato chips, and ice cream in the United States. 

Mining

Pennsylvania is the only American state producing anthracite coal and is the top coal producer in the country. Historically, Pennsylvania has been a crucial coal mining region, particularly in Northumberland, Schuylkill, Carbon, Luzerne, Columbia, and Lackawanna. Pennsylvania is home to the biggest known anthracite coal deposits in the continent. The second most crucial mineral mined in Pennsylvania is limestone, which is used for cement production. Other minerals mined here include petroleum, gravel, sand, and natural gas, among others.

Tourism

Pennsylvania has been one of the top travel destinations in the country for years, with Philadelphia being the eleventh-most visited American city in 2008. Philadelphia received over 710,000visitors from other nations. Philadelphia played a crucial role in the establishing of the foundation of the country. The declaration of independence was written here; therefore, there are numerous historical attractions and landmarks in Pennsylvania. Some of the historical sites include the Gettysburg battle site, Valley Forge, and the Liberty Bell. Other famous attractions in this state include Phipps Conservatory, Fallingwater, Philadelphia Museum-of-Art, Presque-Isle-State Park, and Chocolate World, among others.

Service

The leading services group in this state includes personal service, business, and community service. Some of the most popular businesses in Pennsylvania are law firms, private health care firms, engineering firms, professional sports franchises, and hotels. The second most essential services income in the state comes from real estate, insurance, and finance group. The real estate is supported by some of the biggest banks in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The first stock exchange in the country was the formed in 1790 in Philadelphia. Ranking third in Pennsylvania’s service industry is the retail business (restaurants, department stores, and grocery shops) and the wholesaler trade (industrial machinery petroleum, groceries, coal, and automobile).

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