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  NSF 03-303 | November 2002   PDF format PDF format | See Related Reports  

Top R&D-Performing States Display Diverse R&D Patterns in 2000

by Brandon Shackelford Send an e-mail message to the author

Although research and development (R&D) expenditures are concentrated in relatively few states, patterns of R&D activities vary considerably among the top R&D-performing locations. In 2000, total U.S. R&D expenditures were $265 billion, of which $247 billion could be attributed to expenditures within individual states with the remainder falling under an undistributed "other/unknown" category. The statistics and discussion in this InfoBrief refer to state R&D levels in relation to the distributed total of $247 billion. These totals include R&D performed by industry, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.[1]

Distribution of R&D Expenditures Among States

In 2000, the 20 highest ranking states in R&D expenditures accounted for 87 percent of the U.S. total, while the lowest ranking 20 states accounted for only 4 percent.

In 2000, the 20 highest ranking states in R&D expenditures accounted for 87 percent of the U.S. total, while the lowest ranking 20 states accounted for only 4 percent. The six states with the highest levels of R&D expenditures—California, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois (in decreasing order of magnitude)—accounted for one-half of the entire national effort. Adding (in descending order) Texas, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the top 10 states accounted for two-thirds (table 1). As in prior years, California had the highest level of R&D expenditures in the Nation ($55 billion); it alone accounted for over one-fifth of the $247 billion U.S. R&D total. California's R&D effort exceeded by nearly a factor of three that of the next highest state, Michigan, with nearly $19 billion in R&D expenditures. After Michigan, R&D levels for the top 10 states declined incrementally to $8.6 billion for Maryland.[2]

Table 1. Leading states in total R&D performance, R&D by sector, and R&D as a percentage of gross state product: 2000
  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Ratio of R&D to Gross State Product

States vary significantly in the size of their economies, owing to differences in population, land area, infrastructure, natural resources, and history. Consequently, variations in the R&D expenditure levels of states may simply reflect differences in economic size or the nature of their R&D efforts. One way of controlling for the size of each state's economy is to measure each state's R&D level as a percentage of its gross state product (GSP).[3] That percentage is referred to as R&D intensity or concentration.

Overall, the Nation's ratio of total R&D to gross domestic product was 2.69 percent in 2000. The top 10 rankings for state R&D intensity in 2000 were, in descending order, Michigan (5.81 percent), New Mexico, Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, California, Idaho, and the District of Columbia (3.87 percent). Each of the 10 states with the highest R&D intensity levels in 2000 was also among the top 10 states in R&D intensity in 1998 and 1999. New Mexico's high R&D intensity is largely attributable to Federal (specifically Department of Energy) support of two federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GSP for the nation[4] grew at an annual rate of 4.5 percent from 1999 to 2000. Six of the 10 states with the fastest growth in real GSP from 1999 to 2000 also rank among the top 10 in either total R&D performance (California, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) or R&D intensity (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, and Idaho) for 2000.

Sector Distribution of R&D Performance by State

Although leading states in total R&D tend to be well represented in each of the major R&D-performing sectors, the relative shares of each state's R&D performed by these sectors varies. States that are national leaders in total R&D performance are also usually leaders in terms of R&D performance by the industrial sector, which is not surprising because industry-performed R&D accounts for 77 percent of the distributed U.S. total. Thus, 9 of the top 10 states for total R&D (all but Maryland) were among the leading industrial R&D-performing states; Ohio rounded out the list of top 10 industrial R&D states in 2000. Although university-performed R&D accounts for only 12 percent of the U.S. total, it is also highly correlated with the total R&D performance in a state (table 2). The top 10 states in university-performed R&D include the top 10 states in total R&D except that North Carolina and Georgia replace New Jersey and Washington.

Table 2. Correlations coefficients among state R&D components: 2000
  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

There was less overlap between the top 10 states for total R&D and those states with the most Federal-performed R&D.[5] Only four states are in both top 10 lists: Maryland, California, Texas, and New Jersey. The six additions to the Federal intramural top 10, in descending order of Federal R&D performance, were the District of Columbia, Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico. Maryland ranked first in Federal R&D performance, followed by the District of Columbia, California, and Virginia. The inclusion of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in the top-four ranking reflects the concentration of Federal facilities and administrative offices within the national capital area. Alabama, Florida, and New Mexico rank among the highest in Federal R&D because of their relatively high shares of Federal space- and defense-related R&D.

Industry R&D in Top States

The types of companies that carry out R&D vary considerably among the 10 leading states in industry-performed R&D (table 3). Nationally, 62 percent of total industry R&D is performed in manufacturing industries. Michigan has a higher share of its industry R&D accounted for by manufacturing industries (89 percent), which can largely be attributed to the state's high concentration of automotive design and manufacturing. The transportation equipment industry accounts for 15 percent of the nation's total industry R&D but accounts for 73 percent of the industry R&D in Michigan. Washington has less of its industry R&D concentrated in manufacturing industries than the nation as a whole with a manufacturing share of 33 percent. Companies in Washington performed over $6 billion of nonmanufacturing R&D in 2000, a large portion of which can be attributed to software research and development.

Table 3. Leading states in industry R&D performance, shares of R&D by select industry and size of company: 2000
  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

At a more detailed level, clusters of industrial R&D activity are apparent in the top 10 states in industry R&D. The computer and electronic products industry accounts for 23 percent of the nation's total industry R&D but accounts for a larger share of the industry R&D in California (36 percent), Massachusetts (43 percent), and Texas (42 percent). These three states have clearly defined regional centers of high-technology research and manufacturing: Silicon Valley in California, Route 128 in Massachusetts, and the Silicon Hills of Austin in Texas. The chemicals industry accounts for 10 percent of the nation's total industry R&D but accounts for much more of the industry R&D in New Jersey (25 percent) and Pennsylvania (33 percent). Chemicals is the largest single manufacturing industry in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and both of these states are home to a number of large pharmaceutical and chemical-manufacturing companies.

Variation among the top 10 states in industry R&D is also evident in terms of the relative R&D performance of small and large companies in the state. For the purpose of this analysis a small company is defined as having from 5 to 499 employees.[6] Nationally these small companies perform 18 percent of the nation's total industry R&D, but in three of the top 10 states small companies perform a much greater share of industry R&D. Small companies perform 27 percent of California's, 26 percent of New Jersey's, and 21 percent of Massachusetts's industrial R&D. In contrast with these states, small companies perform a much smaller share of industry R&D in Michigan (9 percent), Illinois (4 percent), and Washington (9 percent).

User Notes

NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) collects and analyzes statistics on the geographic distribution of R&D expenditures in the United States among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The data are categorized by type of performer (industry, Federal Government, academia, FFRDCs, and other nonprofit organizations) and by source of funds (industry and Federal Government, and for university performers only, state government, academia, and other nonprofit organizations).[7] The amounts of R&D funding from specific Federal agencies are also provided.

In addition to these state R&D statistics, SRS collects state-specific data in its surveys of science and engineering (S&E) personnel and institutions. These data and those assembled from non-SRS sources (e.g., data on population, patents, and GSP) are included in a set of 52 one-page S&E state profiles available at

Data on U.S. and state R&D expenditures were assembled from ongoing NSF surveys. For information on U.S. and state R&D, please contact—

Brandon Shackelford
Division of Science Resources Statistics
Research and Development Statistics Program
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230


[1] R&D performance refers to the sector that does the work regardless of the funding source, as distinguished from the sector that funds the R&D activity.

[2] Reliability of the estimates of industry R&D varies by state because the sample for the NSF Survey of Research and Development in Industry was not based on geography. Rankings do not take into account the margin of error of estimates from sample surveys.

[3] GSP is often considered the state counterpart of the nation's GDP (gross domestic product). GSP is estimated by summing the "value added" of each industry in a state. Value added for an industry is equivalent to its gross output (sales or receipts and other operating income, commodity taxes, and inventory change) minus its intermediate inputs (consumption of goods and services purchased from other U.S. industries or imported). (Source:

[4] GSP for the nation is the sum of all the states' GSPs. GSP for the nation differs from GDP, however, in part because GSP excludes and GDP includes the compensation of federal civilian and military personnel stationed abroad and government consumption of fixed capital for military structures located abroad and for military equipment, except office equipment. (Source:

[5] Federal-performed R&D includes costs associated with the administration of intramural and extramural programs by Federal personnel as well as actual intramural performance.

[6] For most manufacturing industries, the U.S. Small Business Association has established a size standard of 500 employees. The NSF Survey of Research and Development in Industry does not sample companies with fewer than five employees due to concerns over respondent burden.

[7] Data on industry R&D—and therefore on total R&D—performance are not available for Puerto Rico.


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Last Modified:  Dec 19, 2002.  Comments to