What Are The Biggest Industries In Virginia?

Farm fields along a country road on a foggy morning in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
Farm fields along a country road on a foggy morning in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.

Virginia is an American state that is situated in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the country. Virginia is surrounded by West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the thirty-sixth largest American state that occupies an area of about 42,774.2 sq miles, with a population of about 8,535,519 people. The most populous city in Virginia is Virginia Beach, while Richmond is its capital city. The Virginia colony was the first English colony to be established in the New World in 1607. Virginia is home to the New World’s oldest continuous law-making institution. The climate and geography of Virginia are shaped by the Chesapeake Bay and Blue-Ridge Mountains, which provide a perfect habitat for its fauna and flora.  

Economy Of Virginia

Virginia has a well-balanced economy with diverse income sources, including business, farming, and military, federal, and local government. Virginia has over 4.1 million civilian employees, and 33.3% of them are working in the service sector. The state’s unemployment rate of November 2019 was 2.9% representing 116,096 jobless people. The state’s employment rate was 0.9 percentage point lower than the national rate for November 2019. Virginia’s GDP was more than $510 billion in 2017. The highest-income area in the state is Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is home to 6 of the top-20 highest-income counties in the country. The CNN Money Magazine listed Great Fall as the highest-income town in the United States in 2011. According to Phoenix-Marketing International, this state had the seventh-highest number of millionaires per-capita in the country. There are 9 Fortune-500 firms headquartered in Richmond region and 7 in Northern Virginia. There are 10 Fortune-1000 companies in Northern Virginia and a total of 29 in Virginia.

Biggest Industries In Virginia


The service sector is the biggest industry in the economy of Virginia, which accounts for over 66.67% of the state’s GDP. The public sector (local, state, and federal government), social and health services, and retail and wholesale trade account for a considerable portion of employment in the state. Technical, scientific, and professional services are a crucial source of income in the state as well, with many people working in the business and communications sectors. The business, personal, and community services group is the leading service industry here which produces income through repair shops, engineering and programming companies, motels and hotels, and private health care. The biggest internet- service provider in the world is based in Virginia.

The second-largest sector in service is the real estate, insurance, and government and finance service groups. Numerous government services like hospitals and public schools can be found in Virginia. Several military bases, CIA’s headquarters, and the Pentagon are all in Virginia. Rapid growth in population in Virginia has fueled the real estate sector with the construction of shopping centers and houses, among other properties.


Virginia is home to the highest number of technology workers in the country. Computer chips became the leading export product from Virginia in 2006, surpassing tobacco and coal combined. The Dulled-Technology Corridor that is situated on the boundary between Loudoun County and Fairfax County, has the highest number of communication technology, software, and internet engineering firms. Virginia’s biotechnology sector is not centralized; however, it is growing at a very fast rate. The biotechnology sector is highlighted by the opening of the Janelia research campus and the construction of the Virginia-Biotechnology-Research Park in Richmond. The nanotechnology industry accounted for over $1billion in manufactured products in 2006. The nanotechnology sector is centered in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Most of the researchers based in Hampton Roads believe that the area has an advantage when it comes to commercializing nanotechnology because of the amount of research in the region that is spearheaded by Langley-Research Center.

Agriculture, Forestry, And Fishing

Agriculture occupied 32% of Virginia’s land and provided about 357,000 jobs as of 2007. There were about 47,000 farms in the state, which occupied an area of about 8.1million acres. Even though the agricultural sector has declined since the 1960s when there are over 94,000farms in the state, agriculture is still one of the main industries in Virginia. Even though tobacco is not the main crop, Virginia is the fifth biggest producer of tobacco in the country. The main agricultural products in this state include vegetables, feeds and grains, dairy products, cattle, and poultry. Virginia is home to one of the leading turkey-raising operations in the country. Virginia’s peaches and apples are quite popular, particularly the ones from Winchester.

The forestry sector in Virginia taps both pine trees from the low-lying regions and hardwood from uplands. The primary product of the region’s sawmills in hardwood boards while pine is the main pulpwood. The state government has implemented several reforestation programs that help counter the risk of overharvesting of trees.

Virginia fisheries operate in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia is the leading producer of seafood in the Atlantic Coast. The largest seafood harvest in this state includes clams, blue crabs, oysters, and scallops. Virginia exports seafood to Hong Kong, Canada, and France, among other destinations. The vineyard and wineries along the Blue-Ridge Mountain and Northern Neck attracted over 2.3million tourists in 2015 alone. Virginia had the fifth-highest number of wineries in the U.S. in 2014.  

Other Industries

The manufacturing sector generates less than 10% of the state’s GDP and also employs a comparable proportion of the labor force. The leading manufacturers in Virginia are the chemical plants and tobacco factories. Other non-durable commodities produced here include apparel, textiles, and food. Some of the durable goods manufactured here include wood products, electric equipment, furniture, and transportation equipment. The tourism sector generated about $21.2billion and supported about 210,000jobs in Virginia in 2012. The leading tourist destination in Virginia by domestic-spending is Arlington County, followed by Virginia Beach, Loudoun County, and Fairfax County. Virginia’s leading commercial mineral is coal. Other minerals mined here include gravel, sand, clay, and stone. Over 50% of Virginia’s energy is drawn from coal. The nuclear generators provide 33% of the energy, while natural gas and petroleum supply account for a small percentage of the power produced in this state.   


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