Last week I spent several days in Idaho visiting an old friend in Boise, the state capital. Driving around the state, I was amazed at the number of ranches and farms that dominate the “high desert” landscape of this picturesque state. From this viewpoint, it was clear to me that Idaho is a state dominated by agriculture.
But there is more being made in Idaho than potatoes. In fact, agriculture makes up just 5% of Idaho’s economy. As it turns out, manufacturing is Idaho’s biggest industry, accounting for over 14% of the state GDP in 2004 (20% larger than Real Estate, the state’s second-largest industry.) And what is exactly made in Idaho? High-end electronics as it turns out: 50% of Idaho manufacturing is comprised of Computer and Electronic Products manufacturing.
With the fast pace of computer/electronic manufacturing going on in the United States, it did not surprise me too much when I found out that Idaho’s manufacturing sector has been driving the state’s economic recovery since the 2001 recession. From 2002 through 2004, Idaho manufacturing GDP growth has averaged 10% per-year. Just by itself, manufacturing has amazingly accounted for 40 percent of the state’s economic growth since the end of the recession.
As a result of its manufacturing recovery, the economy of Idaho stacks up pretty well compared to the nation overall: from 2002 through 2004, Idaho’s economic growth has averaged 4.4% — incredibly half again as fast (55%) as the 2.8% pace of the national economy.
This is proof positive that a growing manufacturing base should be a goal of every state!