Study finds trade supports 770,000 jobs in Indiana

Montreal-based Fednav Group's ship Federal Caribou docks at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in this file photo. A new study has calculated Indiana exported $47.9 billion worth of goods and services in 2018.

Northwest Indiana is a hub of international trade with the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor unloading scores of ocean-going ships every year.

A new study by the Washington D.C.-based lobbying group Business Roundtable found Indiana exported $47.9 billion worth of goods and services last year. The state has 8,170 companies exporting $39.4 billion in goods and $8.5 billion in services.

The report found Indiana companies sell goods to more than 201 foreign countries, including $19.2 billion in goods and services just to Canada and Mexico.

The pro-business advocacy group, whose board includes many chief executive officers of major corporations, commissioned the consultant Trade Partnership Worldwide to do the study, which projects that international trade helped support roughly 770,000 jobs in Indiana, or about one out of every five in the state.

"These trade-related jobs grew six times faster than total employment from 1992 to 2017 and are at large and small companies, on farms, in factories, and at the headquarters of Indiana's globally engaged firms," Business Roundtable said in its report. "Of Indiana's 8,170 exporters, 84 percent are small- and medium-sized companies with less than 500 workers."

The Hoosier state's exports have grown roughly 70 percent faster than Indiana's Gross Domestic Product since 2007, the study found. Exports of goods and services accounted for 13.6% of the state's economy in 2017.

Foreign-owned companies like ArcelorMittal, BP, Fronius, and MonoSol also employ roughly 193,000 workers across the state, including more than 110,000 in the manufacturing sector and thousands in the Calumet Region.

Indiana ranks among the top five state exporters in 10 industries, including wood products, pharmaceuticals, animals foods, and engines and turbines. It's second largest exporter in the United States of swine and the 11th largest exporter of agricultural products, such as the grain that's loaded onto international ships at the deepwater port on Lake Michigan in Burns Harbor and Portage.

The state's exports of motor vehicles reached $3.3 billion in 2017, making it one of the fastest-growing export categories.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.