Atlanta exported $26.5 billion worth of goods and services in 2014, making it No. 14 for volume of export sales among the 381 metro areas ranked in a new Brookings Institution report.  

But the Export Monitor 2015 reveals that the city still has a ways to go in boosting overseas sales as a proportion of the overall economy. 

Exports accounted for just 9 percent of the Atlanta metro area’s GDP. That’s down from 9.5 percent in 2013 and puts Atlanta at No. 246 in the nation overall. 

Atlanta’s not alone in seeing a decline in what Brookings calls “export intensity” — the proportion of a city’s economy supported by exports. 

Last year, the U.S. economy grew by 2.4 percent, but exports only grew 1.8 percent, despite the fact that in raw numbers they eclipsed $2 trillion for the first time ever. 

In the first quarter of 2015, exports of goods and services saw a 7.2 percent decline versus the previous year, dented by a strong dollar and slower growth in Asia and other markets, according to Brookings. Exports of goods alone were down 13.3 percent. 

Metros in the South and West performed better than the rest of the nation, where metros were largely hit by declines in manufacturing exports, according to the report:

“Together, metro exports in the South grew by 2.9 percent and in the West by 3.4 percent, while metros in the Northeast declined by 0.2 percent and in the Midwest by 0.8 percent. Of the 133 metros in which export growth exceeded GDP growth, 105 were in the Southern or Western parts of the U.S.”

Still, the long-term trend of Atlanta’s export growth was positive, with an annualized rate of 3 percent per year since 2003 and 4.6 percent since 2008. 

The metro area is also No. 13 among U.S. metros by total export-supported jobs, at 188,807. 

See Atlanta’s  top 10 categories of exported goods and services below: 

1. AIRCRAFT PRODUCTS & PARTS ($1,516.8 mil.)

2. FREIGHT & PORT SERVICES ($1,466.2 mil.)


4. CREDIT ISSUANCE & LENDING ($1,149.1 mil.)

5. FOOD & DRINK SERVICES ($1,109.8 mil.)


7. RETAIL SERVICES ($909.8 mil.)

8. MANAGEMENT & CONSULTING ($881.1 mil.)

9. MEAT & POULTRY PRODUCTS ($610.2 mil.)


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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...