California trails Texas in exports and related jobs, report finds

Los Angeles exports outpaced by New York and Houston, Commerce Department finds

California is home to the busiest port complex in the country and the largest manufacturing center, but where exports are concerned, it’s neither the heaviest mover nor the top employer.

Businesses sending goods out of Texas helped sustain 1.1 million jobs last year, compared to 802,000 jobs in California, according to a new report from the Department of Commerce.

Together the two states account for more than a quarter of export-related jobs nationwide, exceeding the bottom 35 states combined.

Last year, the value of goods and services exported out of the U.S. reached a record $2.3 trillion, supporting roughly 11.3 million American jobs, according to the government. Exports of goods alone -- including manufactured products, agricultural items and natural resources -- helped make 7.1 million jobs possible.

Government researchers noted that most of their data are tied to the states where goods were produced. But some figures are derived instead from way stations, such as when agricultural products are shipped down the Mississippi River and consolidated in New Orleans before being sent out of the country.

Nationwide, the metropolitan area that includes Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim was among the top exporters, sending out $76.3 billion in goods. (The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together make up the nation's busiest cargo container complex, but much of the activity involves imports from Asia.)

But the California region was outpaced by the Houston district in Texas, which exported $115 billion in goods last year, $35.3 billion of it in refined petroleum and coal products. New York, along with Newark and New Jersey, exported $106.9 billion in goods.

Exports from U.S. metro areas rose by 3.1%, or nearly $43 billion, in 2013 from the year prior. Moving American goods out of the country has been responsible for nearly a third of the nation’s economic growth since mid-2009, according to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

The government tracks 387 metro areas nationwide. Of those, 208 areas watched exports expand last year; 134 achieved record highs.

Riverside and Sacramento were among the 15 areas that enjoyed double digit export growth.

Seattle, which had the largest overall dollar increase in exports with a $6.4-billion surge, witnessed the most substantial boost in business with China, with a $4.9-billion uptick. Los Angeles was fourth, with a $3.3-billion swell.

But neither Los Angeles nor Houston was the largest metro exporter to Canada and Mexico -- that distinction was claimed by Detroit.

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