CompTIA: Tech Industry Has Huge Impact on U.S. Economy

Woman using smartphone with coffee

We all know that, economically speaking, the IT industry is big — but sometimes it's helpful to get a sense of how big it really is. CompTIA can help, with the recent release of its Tech Trade Snapshot 2017. This report, published May 3, helps put some sense of size into the "How big is big?" question.


Here are some highlights to chew on:


? U.S. exports of tech products and services came to an estimated $309 billion in 2016. (Source: U.S. International Trade Association)
? Exports make up around one-quarter of the revenue generated in the U.S. tech industry as a whole. For every $3 spent here in the U.S. on tech, another $1 comes from outside our borders.
? Tech exports support 4 out of 10 U.S. manufacturing jobs.
? The top five states for tech products include (in production order): Texas, California, Florida, Oregon and Illinois.
? Mexico and Canada account for the bulk of tech exports ($74.8 billion to Mexico and Canada for 2016, about 25 percent of that year's $309 billion total).
? The US runs its largest trade surplus with Canada (nearly $18 bilion in 2016).


All of this information, and a great deal more, is featured in the aforelinked report, and is very much worth downloading and reading. (Site registration is required, but is free to the public. CompTIA certainly wouldn't mind, of course, if lots of readers also signed up for a fee-based Premium Membership in the organization.)


Interestingly, while overall dollars have gone up in the export of tech products and services, the product side has been declining slightly. Of the $309 billion number for 2016, $202 billion was for tech products, and the remaining $107 billion for services. That product number is down compared to the past four years, as this nifty bar chart shows:


Ed T Figure 1 05 12 2017


Note that 2016 drops the bar back to a level between 2011 and 2012, with a variation between 3.35 percent (2014) and 0.5 percent (2012). This is almost small enough to say that those numbers are pretty much flat since 2011, which tells me that U.S. technology exports are maintaining their equilibrium even in the face the global slow-growth/no-growth economic situation.


Computer helpdesk techs

Hopefully, that also means the attendant growth on the tech services side comes at least in part from ongoing innovation, with new services offerings capturing interest and income from abroad as well as at home.


In terms of overall sector size, the only economic sector that exports more than tech is transportation and motor vehicles, where that top sector booked $276 billion for 2016. The other members of the top 5 include chemicals ($185 billion); agriculture, food and beverage ($138 billion); and machinery ($125 billion).


Likewise, tech also comes in at the number two spot for services exports. Only travel services ($205 billion) exceed tech's $107 billion earnings. The remainder of this Top 5 include: financial services ($102 billion); transport ($87 billion); and professional and management consulting ($65 billion).


Be sure to grab a copy of this document if you're interested in learning more about where the dollars for international tech trade purchases are coming from, and where our tech is going. Good stuff!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.