Randy ShumwayEvery year, international trade boosts Idaho’s economy by providing jobs, sustaining businesses, and increasing foreign direct investment.

While children in Idaho wear clothes that were made in Guatemala, play with toys made in China, and eat candy made in Germany, people around the world are using products that were made in Idaho—and I’m not just talking about potatoes.

Can you guess what industry led the state in exports last year? If you thought of agriculture, you’re out of luck. Naturally, Idaho’s domestic and global agricultural exports make up a vital component of its economy, given the state’s relative population size and land use. However, the agriculture industry exported merely $237 million of goods in 2015 compared with $1.9 billion in goods sold by the top export industry. Guessed it yet? Computer and electronic products. Second runner up was processed foods at $569 million, followed by chemicals at $352 million.

The diversity of Idaho’s exports enhances the state’s long-term economic stability. The prevalence of foreign investment in Idaho illustrates the value of international trade in the state’s economy. During times of recession, foreign consumers help make up for the lag in domestic consumption of Idaho’s goods.

So where are all these goods going around the world? Canada is Idaho’s largest market, receiving $979 million in exports in 2015. In fact, Canadian trade made up 22.8 percent of total Idaho exports that year. The next largest export markets include China ($561 million), Taiwan ($529 million), Singapore ($414 million), and Japan ($290 million). All together, these five export markets received 64.6 percent of Idaho’s total exports in 2015. As economies in these and other countries grow, their demand for goods will increase. As demand rises, Idaho will be able to sell more products and invest in greater research and development.

Beyond providing revenue, international trade creates and sustains jobs. In 2013 alone, trade supported nearly 195,000 jobs in Idaho—approximately 22 percent of total jobs in the state. In fact, 18 percent of all manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs. A large number of jobs also depend on the presence of foreign companies in Idaho. In 2013, 13,900 people in Idaho were employed by affiliates of companies that were at least 50 percent foreign-owned.

As trade flourishes among the world’s economic partners, companies in Idaho and the United States will continue to grow.

Economic Snapshots

Idaho Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7% in May, and the national unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 4.9% in May.

Idaho Housing Market. In May, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 7.0%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 5.9% during the same period.

U.S. Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® increased 5.6 points to 98.0 in June. The Present Situation Index increased 5.1 points to 118.3, and the Expectations Index increased 6.0 points to 84.5.

U.S. Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index increased 0.4% from April to May. Year over year, the index increased 1.0%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.