Considering the importance of goods trade to the United States, strikingly little is known about which regions trade with one another. This information gap limits the country’s ability to coordinate freight policies and investments. To address this deficiency, this report analyzes domestic and international goods trade data from 2010, revealing that:

The country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas drive national goods trade, with more than 80 percent of all goods either starting or ending in these areas. In total, $16.2 trillion in domestic and international goods flow annually through the largest metropolitan areas, which specialize in moving advanced industrial products.

Just 10 percent of the country’s trade corridors move 79 percent of all goods, the most valuable of which are concentrated in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. The vast majority of the nation’s goods trade tends to be highly concentrated in corridors between the largest metropolitan areas.

Every region of the country relies on at least one major network hub to move large volumes of goods along different corridors domestically and internationally.Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are the clear hubs of the national network, while other large metropolitan areas like Houston and Detroit are centralized traders based upon specialties. These large and diverse markets often represent critical points in the national network and highlight the need to prioritize places for infrastructure investment.

Metropolitan areas tend to trade more goods with each other when they are located close together, employ a sizable number of logistics workers, and house large populations. Controlling for all other factors, each additional 100 miles separating two regions reduces expected trade volumes by 3.2 percent. Every additional 10,000 logistics workers increases expected trade between two regions by over 12 percent, and an additional one million residents increases expected trade volumes by over 1.5 percent.

With over 77 percent of the nation’s freight moving between different states, the United States must establish a more coordinated freight strategy across all levels of the public and private sectors. Since most regions move goods across state lines, they depend on a well-connected freight network to reach distant markets and drive economic growth. Some metropolitan areas, such as Las Vegas and Baltimore, exchange over 90 percent of their goods beyond their respective states.

This report explores the major trade corridors connecting different regions of the country, revealing the importance of particular places in the nation’s freight network. Since the most valuable corridors are often concentrated among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, policymakers must fundamentally reorient freight policy to support these markets.


Adie Tomer


Adie Tomer is a senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. His work focuses on metropolitan infrastructure usage patterns.


Joseph Kane


Joseph Kane is a senior policy/research assistant at the Metropolitan Policy Program. His work contributes to the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, with a focus on transportation and freight movement.


The Metro Freight Series

The Metro Freight research series assesses goods trade at the metropolitan scale by using a unique and comprehensive database to capture all the goods moving in and out of U.S. metropolitan areas. See more »

Overview of the Goods Trade Network for All Commodities (Total Trade) Involving U.S. Markets

This diagram shows trade flows of all commodities (total trade) between the 75 largest domestic markets and 25 largest markets

 for these goods. A market’s size is determined by its combined exports and imports to/from other markets in the United States.


All Commodities (Total Trade)Agricultural ProductsStones/OresEnergy ProductsChemicals/PlasticsWood ProductsTextiles MetalsMachineryElectronicsTransportation EquipmentPrecision InstrumentsFurnitureWaste/ScrapMixed FreightPharmaceuticalsTools/Manufacturing Products See diagram at the link below.

The data presented in this interactive feature identify 449 market geographies. Domestically, there are 361 U.S. metropolitan areas and 48 state “remainders” (i.e. the non-metropolitan portion of each state). Internationally, there are 18 countries, 11 larger country groups (e.g. Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Caribbean), and 11 continental “remainders” (e.g. Remainder of South America and Remainder of North America). Both state and continental remainders are identified by “(Rem.)” following their name.

Trade of All Commodities (Total Trade) between Abilene, TX and its Largest Trading Partners

This diagram shows the largest trade flows (imports plus exports) by dollar value of all commoditielargest trading partnerss (total trade) between Abilene, TX and its largest trading partners for this commodity group.


All Commodities (Total Trade)Agricultural ProductsStones/OresEnergy ProductsChemicals/PlasticsWood ProductsTextiles MetalsMachineryElectronicsTransportation EquipmentPrecision InstrumentsFurnitureWaste/ScrapMixed FreightPharmaceuticalsTools/Manufacturing Products


Abilene, TXAkron, OHAlabama  (Rem.)Alaska  (Rem.)Albany, GAAlbany, NYAlbuquerque, NMAlexandria, LAAllentown, PA-NJAltoona, PAAmarillo, TXAmes, IAAnchorage, AKAnderson, INAnderson, SCAnn Arbor, MIAnniston, ALAppleton, WIArizona  (Rem.)Arkansas  (Rem.)Asheville, NCAthens, GAAtlanta, GAAtlantic City, NJAuburn, ALAugusta, GA-SCAustin, TXBakersfield, CABaltimore, MDBangor, MEBarnstable Town, MABaton Rouge, LABattle Creek, MIBay City, MIBeaumont, TXBellingham, WABend, ORBillings, MTBinghamton, NYBirmingham, ALBismarck, NDBlacksburg, VABloomington, ILBloomington, INBoise City, IDBoston, MA-NHBoulder, COBowling Green, KYBremerton, WABridgeport, CTBrownsville, TXBrunswick, GABuffalo, NYBurlington, NCBurlington, VTCalifornia  (Rem.)Canton, OHCape Coral, FLCarson City, NVCasper, WYCedar Rapids, IAChampaign, ILCharleston, SCCharleston, WVCharlotte, NC-SCCharlottesville, VAChattanooga, TN-GACheyenne, WYChicago, IL-IN-WIChico, CACincinnati, OH-KY-INClarksville, TN-KYCleveland, OHCleveland, TNCoeur d’Alene, IDCollege Station, TXColorado  (Rem.)Colorado Springs, COColumbia, MOColumbia, SCColumbus, GA-ALColumbus, INColumbus, OHConnecticut  (Rem.)Corpus Christi, TXCorvallis, ORCumberland, MD-WVDallas, TXDalton, GADanville, ILDanville, VADavenport, IL-IADayton, OHDecatur, ALDecatur, ILDelaware  (Rem.)Deltona, FLDenver, CODes Moines, IADetroit, MIDothan, ALDover, DEDubuque, IADuluth, MN-WIDurham, NCEau Claire, WIEl Centro, CAElizabethtown, KYElkhart, INElmira, NYEl Paso, TXErie, PAEugene, OREvansville, IN-KYFairbanks, AKFargo, ND-MNFarmington, NMFayetteville, AR-MOFayetteville, NCFlagstaff, AZFlint, MIFlorence, ALFlorence, SCFlorida  (Rem.)Fond du Lac, WIFort Collins, COFort Smith, AR-OKFort Walton Beach, FLFort Wayne, INFresno, CAGadsden, ALGainesville, FLGainesville, GAGeorgia  (Rem.)Glens Falls, NYGoldsboro, NCGrand Forks, ND-MNGrand Junction, COGrand Rapids, MIGreat Falls, MTGreeley, COGreen Bay, WIGreensboro, NCGreenville, NCGreenville, SCGulfport, MSHagerstown, MD-WVHanford, CAHarrisburg, PAHarrisonburg, VAHartford, CTHattiesburg, MSHawaii  (Rem.)Hickory, NCHinesville, GAHolland, MIHonolulu, HIHot Springs, ARHouma, LAHouston, TXHuntington, WV-KY-OHHuntsville, ALIdaho Falls, IDIdaho  (Rem.)Illinois  (Rem.)Indianapolis, INIndiana  (Rem.)Iowa City, IAIowa  (Rem.)Ithaca, NYJackson, MIJackson, MSJackson, TNJacksonville, FLJacksonville, NCJanesville, WIJefferson City, MOJohnson City, TNJohnstown, PAJonesboro, ARJoplin, MOKalamazoo, MIKankakee, ILKansas City, MO-KSKansas  (Rem.)Kennewick, WAKentucky  (Rem.)Killeen, TXKingsport, TN-VAKingston, NYKnoxville, TNKokomo, INLa Crosse, WI-MNLafayette, INLafayette, LALake Charles, LALakeland, FLLancaster, PALansing, MILaredo, TXLas Cruces, NMLas Vegas, NVLawrence, KSLawton, OKLebanon, PALewiston, ID-WALewiston, MELexington, KYLima, OHLincoln, NELittle Rock, ARLogan, UT-IDLongview, TXLongview, WALos Angeles, CALouisiana  (Rem.)Louisville, KY-INLubbock, TXLynchburg, VAMacon, GAMadera, CAMadison, WIMaine  (Rem.)Manchester, NHMansfield, OHMaryland  (Rem.)Massachusetts  (Rem.)McAllen, TXMedford, ORMemphis, TN-MS-ARMerced, CAMiami, FLMichigan City, INMichigan  (Rem.)Midland, TXMilwaukee, WIMinneapolis, MN-WIMinnesota  (Rem.)Mississippi  (Rem.)Missoula, MTMissouri  (Rem.)Mobile, ALModesto, CAMonroe, LAMonroe, MIMontana  (Rem.)Montgomery, ALMorgantown, WVMorristown, TNMount Vernon, WAMuncie, INMuskegon, MIMyrtle Beach, SCNapa, CANaples, FLNashville-Davidson, TNNebraska  (Rem.)Nevada  (Rem.)New Hampshire  (Rem.)New Haven, CTNew Mexico  (Rem.)New Orleans, LANew York, NY-NJ-PANew York  (Rem.)Niles, MINorth Carolina  (Rem.)North Dakota  (Rem.)Norwich, CTOcala, FLOcean City, NJOdessa, TXOgden, UTOhio  (Rem.)Oklahoma City, OKOklahoma  (Rem.)Olympia, WAOmaha, NE-IAOregon  (Rem.)Orlando, FLOshkosh, WIOwensboro, KYOxnard, CAPalm Bay, FLPanama City, FLParkersburg, OH-WVPascagoula, MSPennsylvania  (Rem.)Pensacola, FLPeoria, ILPhiladelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MDPhoenix, AZPine Bluff, ARPittsburgh, PAPittsfield, MAPocatello, IDPortland, MEPortland, OR-WAPort St. Lucie, FLPoughkeepsie, NYPrescott, AZProvidence, RI-MAProvo, UTPueblo, COPunta Gorda, FLRacine, WIRaleigh, NCRapid City, SDReading, PARedding, CAReno, NVRichmond, VARiverside, CARoanoke, VARochester, MNRochester, NYRockford, ILRocky Mount, NCRome, GASacramento, CASaginaw, MISalem, ORSalinas, CASalisbury, MDSalt Lake City, UTSan Angelo, TXSan Antonio, TXSan Diego, CASandusky, OHSan Francisco, CASan Jose, CASan Luis Obispo, CASanta Barbara, CASanta Cruz, CASanta Fe, NMSanta Rosa, CASarasota, FLSavannah, GAScranton, PASeattle, WASheboygan, WISherman, TXShreveport, LASioux City, IA-NE-SDSioux Falls, SDSouth Bend, IN-MISouth Carolina  (Rem.)South Dakota  (Rem.)Spartanburg, SCSpokane, WASpringfield, ILSpringfield, MASpringfield, MOSpringfield, OHState College, PASt. Cloud, MNSt. George, UTSt. Joseph, MO-KSSt. Louis, MO-ILStockton, CASumter, SCSyracuse, NYTallahassee, FLTampa, FLTennessee  (Rem.)Terre Haute, INTexarkana, TXTexas  (Rem.)Toledo, OHTopeka, KSTrenton, NJTucson, AZTulsa, OKTuscaloosa, ALTyler, TXUtah  (Rem.)Utica, NYValdosta, GAVallejo, CAVermont  (Rem.)Vero Beach, FLVictoria, TXVineland, NJVirginia Beach, VA-NCVirginia  (Rem.)Visalia, CAWaco, TXWarner Robins, GAWashington, DC-VA-MD-WVWashington  (Rem.)Waterloo, IAWausau, WIWeirton, OH-WVWenatchee, WAWest Virginia  (Rem.)Wheeling, OH-WVWichita Falls, TXWichita, KSWilliamsport, PAWilmington, NCWinchester, VA-WVWinston, NCWisconsin  (Rem.)Worcester, MAWyoming  (Rem.)Yakima, WAYork, PAYoungstown, OH-PAYuba City, CAYuma, AZ

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