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Wisconsin Exports Drop As Cost Of US Goods Increases Overseas

Exports On Pace For Nearly 6 Percent Decrease In 2016, But State Sees Some Bright Spots

Freight containers
Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Wisconsin is seeing a dip in exports this year, a decrease that’s in line with a national trend.

The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show $17.5 billion in Wisconsin exports from January through October. If that rate continues through the end of the year, state exports will be down nearly 6 percent compared to 2015.

Mark Maley of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said a main factor behind the downward trend is the strength of the United States dollar overseas.

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“If the dollar is stronger, which it is right now, that means it’s going to cost more money to purchase United States goods,” Maley said. “That’s going to have an effect on exporting.”

Maley said slowdowns in other foreign industries, such as mining, have had a particular effect on Wisconsin because its single largest export is industrial machinery. Industry made up $5.8 billion, or 26 percent, of total exports in 2015, according to the WEDC.

While exports are down in the short term, Maley said the state’s annual exports are still well ahead of the pre-recession peak of $20.6 billion set in 2008. And he said the state sees several areas of growth, including exports of medical equipment and water technology.

“Milwaukee is gaining an international reputation as a leader in water technology,” Maley said. “Countries are looking for ways to purify their water and make sure they have a strong drinking supply, and that’s an area where we think we’re well positioned.”

The U.S. Census Bureau will release the exports numbers for the latter part of the year around February.