The Economy of Texas – the Primary Industries

The economy in Texas is massive and its GDP in 2016 amounted to 1,599 trillion US dollars which makes it the second biggest State in the country after California. If it were a country its GDP would be the 10th highest in the world. In 2012 it exported more than 264 billion dollars of goods, which was more than the States of California and New York combined.

Historically the economic base has been the cattle, timber, oil and cotton industries. These primary industries first brought economic success into the State, which resulted in many people migrating into the region and the growth of the big cities that are found today.

A cowboy at work

Most people’s perception of Texas is closely associated with cowboys and it was the cattle industry that first took hold in the State. The State is massive and less than 10% of the land area is desert, leaving vast plains of grasslands that are ideal for the rearing of cattle. The cattle industry reached its peak in the late 1870’s.

The cotton industry also grew in the region in the 19th century and by the end of the century of it was the largest cotton producer in the country. Flat land fertile soils and hot weather were ideal growing conditions and its success resulted in the growth of the States ports and railways, so that the produce could be exported to a variety of different destinations. The timber industry has always been important in Texas as there always have been large forested areas, such as the Big Thicket region where the trees are readily available. They are still farmed today, but they are also seen for their environmental importance as well as their commercial value.

Oil was first located in the State in 1901 in Beaumont and it was the start of the Texas oil boom. The initial discovery in 1901 proved to be a massive reservoir of oil and this led to much exploration around the state that exposed other reserves of oil. By 1940 Texas was the major producer of oil in the country. It had a major effect on the State as prior to the discovery Texas was mainly a rural region but now people and businesses were being attracted to the cities. Houston in particular benefited and it became the home to the largest concentration of refineries in the world.

Agriculture is still a big industry in the State but now it is no longer dominated just by the cattle industry. There are still more cows in the State than in any other State in the country with an estimated 16 million being reared each year. However, as well as the state leading the way in the rearing of cattle and the growing of cotton it also now farms cereals, water melons, grapefruit and rice. Much of this is due to the farmers being able to take advantage of the irrigation schemes that have been drained off the Lower Colorado River.

The State is also home to a valuable fishing industry. The sea ports at Brownsville, Galveston and Palcios have commercial fleets that trawl the Gulf of Mexico for its fish. The most popular catch is shrimp and in 2014 the industry contributed 262 million US dollars to the Texas economy.

The primary industries continue to provide the Texas economy with huge supplies of income.