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Exports from U.S. Metropolitan Areas Methodology

State and Sub-State Export Data


All state and metro area export values in these tables are from the U.S. Census Bureau's Origin of Movement–ZIP code Based Series (OM-ZIP). This series, which the Census Bureau reintroduced in 2006, allocates exports to states and localities based on the address of the United States Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) of record.

The USPPI of record is not necessarily the entity that produced the merchandise; hence, the series does not furnish complete and reliable data on the production origin of U.S. exports, as explained below.

The USPPI of record, as determined from the electronic export information entered into the Automated Export System, is the person or legal entity in the United States that receives the primary benefit, monetary or otherwise, from the export transaction. Generally, that person or entity is the U.S. seller, manufacturer, or order party, or the foreign entity while in the United States when purchasing or obtaining the goods for export.

The OM-ZIP series can track export sales of states, metropolitan areas, and ZIP codes (at the three-digit level). Statistics are available for exports of merchandise only. No sub-national data currently exist on exports of services. A new state import series measures goods down to a state level. However, the zip code information needed to track the imports at a metropolitan area level is not collected at this time.

Data users should be aware that, for many states, the OM-ZIP series tends to modestly understate the level of exports. This is because the Census Bureau, faced with missing ZIP codes on many transactions, is unable to assign a small percentage of the value of U.S. exports to individual states each year.

Data users should be aware that all sub-national export statistics in the state data series are based on initial data compiled from U.S. export declarations. Subsequent revisions by the Census Bureau (e.g., carryover and annual revisions) are not reflected in the numbers.

The tables on these pages, as well as other state and local export reports issued by the International Trade Administration, make no attempt to adjust the data to eliminate the "unreported" category.

For more information on the State Export Data Series, please go to the Foreign Trade Division’s State Data website. More detailed data are also available from the Bureau on a fee-for-service basis. Additional questions should be directed to the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, Special Projects Branch — Room 6K133, Washington, DC 20233. Inquiries can also be faxed to 301 763 6638, or call 301 763 3251.

Core Based Statistical Area – Metropolitan Area Data


All metropolitan Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) export numbers in these tables were tabulated by matching the five-digit ZIP codes entered on U.S. export declarations with the five-digit ZIP codes specified for each metropolitan CBSA using concordance files from the Census Bureau’s Geography Division and the U.S. Postal Service.

In 2005, there were cases where two or more adjacent metro areas share the same five-digit ZIP code where it is impossible to assign export transactions with that ZIP code to any single metropolitan CBSA. In such cases, export transactions for the ZIP code in question were assigned to a catch-all “crossovers” category. The crossovers category in 2005 accounted for about 2 percent of total U.S. merchandise exports. In 2006, the Office of Management and Budget eliminated this issue and assigned a single metropolitan CBSA to each five-digit ZIP code. Therefore there is no “crossover” category after 2005.

Since the boundaries of official metropolitan CBSAs are county-based, data users can readily determine the coverage of export statistics for any given CBSA by referring to published maps or other widely available references. It is not possible here to provide a comprehensive listing of counties for the many metropolitan areas covered by this publication. Please see www.omb.gov for more information.

Because of the relative precision of the five-digit ZIP code method used to compile these tables, the metropolitan CBSA export figures in these Web pages can be compared and used in conjunction with any other metropolitan CBSA-based federal statistics (e.g., on population, income, educational level). The only limitation is that the numbers presented here only cover metropolitan CBSAs.

Regarding comparability with other U.S. trade data, the export figures in this publication can be used in conjunction with the OM-ZIP–based state-level data issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. Using these data together it is possible, for example, to show Cleveland's share of Ohio's export sales.

In tabulating the metropolitan CBSA export figures, the Census Bureau was unable to allocate value to any local jurisdiction on a limited number of transactions. These totals are aggregated into the category called "unknown." The totals for 2005, 2006, and 2007 were $39.3 billion (4.3 percent), $42.6 billion (4.1 percent), and $46.2 billion (4.0 percent) of U.S. export totals respectively. For 2008, "unknown" transactions accounted for $49.5 billion (3.8 percent) of U.S. export totals. No “unknown” transactions were recorded in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013.

Apart from the issues of "crossover" and "unknown" ZIP codes, some $61.1 billion (6.8 percent) in 2005, $79.7 billion (7.7 percent) in 2006, $89.0 billion (7.7 percent) in 2007, $100.8 billion (7.8 percent) in 2008, $120.6 billion (11.4 percent) in 2009, $151.5 billion (11.9 percent) in 2010, $174.9 billion (11.8 percent) in 2011, $185.1 billion (12.0 percent) in 2012, and $174.7 billion (11.1 percent) of U.S. merchandise exports were sold from five-digit ZIP codes located in rural areas in 2013. These transactions are summarized in the "non-metropolitan areas" category, which is displayed where appropriate.

Because of U.S. laws that preclude disclosure of confidential business data provided to the federal government, it was necessary for the U.S. Census Bureau to completely suppress totals for one metropolitan CBSA in 2013: Tuscaloosa, AL. The totals for four CBSAs were excluded in 2012: Jacksonville, NC; Pascagoula, MS; Salisbury, MD; and Tuscaloosa, AL. However in 2012, data became available for four previously suppressed CBSAs: Fairbanks, AK; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ; Flagstaff, AZ; and Anchorage, AK. The totals for seven metropolitan CBSAs were excluded in 2011: Anchorage, Alaska; Fairbanks, Alaska; Flagstaff, AZ; Jacksonville, NC; Lake Havasu City, AZ; Pascagoula, MS; and Tuscaloosa, AL. However, in 2011, data became available for one previously suppressed CBSA: Decatur, Illinois. In 2010, the totals for five metropolitan CBSAs were excluded: Decatur, Illinois; Fairbanks, Alaska; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Anchorage, Alaska. In 2009, the totals for four metropolitan CBSAs were excluded: Lawton, Oklahoma; Decatur, Illinois; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. However, in 2009, data became available for three additional CBSAs: Manhattan, Kansas; Cape Girardeau-Jackson, Missouri-Illinois; and Mankato-North Mankato, Minnesota. In 2007 and 2008, four metropolitan CBSAs were excluded: Decatur, Illinois; Fairbanks, Alaska; Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In 2006, the totals for two metropolitan CBSAs were excluded: Decatur, Illinois, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The totals for these metropolitan CBSAs have been folded into a category labeled "other metropolitan areas." There were no suppressed metropolitan CBSAs for 2005.


For the 387 metro areas for which it is possible to release some export data, disclosure regulations still limit or prevent the release of much detail on foreign markets and the industry composition of exports. Manufactured product detail, even for the largest exporting metropolitan CBSAs, is limited to broad four-digit NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) categories. Information on market destinations, while generally more complete than data on product composition, is also subject to important disclosure-induced limitations.

For additional information regarding the collection and limitations of the Census Bureau’s foreign trade statistics, please go to http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/explain.pdf.

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Last Updated: 9/2/14 12:34 PM