I am looking for some source of data on trade imbalance at a county level in the US, preferably for years 1990-2007. Does anyone know if such data can be publicly available? Or any paper that have been using data like this?

UPD: to break this down, I am looking for:

  • international import/export statistics by US county,

  • intra-state trade statistics, meaning shipments between counties within the US.

Thanks in advance!

  • $\begingroup$ After dismalscience's answer, I think you should try the data from transport companies that insure their cargo. But it's proprietary, of course. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


The data you're asking for doesn't exist.

Most data on things like this are captured through the taxing authority, which means that there are entities that want to collect taxes and therefore care very much where you do something and where your inputs came from. That's very true when there are international borders involved, and it's true to a much lesser degree when there are state borders involved, but in the US, there's generally no administrative interest in tracking the flow of goods across county borders.

Source: I used to create state and local area GDP estimates for the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot for the answer! So, to make it clear, there is no such thing as balance of payments at a state or even more disaggregated level? I was thinking to construct the measure, and I am pretty sure one can find int. exports by the state of origin, but not so sure about imports and domestic trade by state, and I see now that it is indeed not realistic to have it for counties. $\endgroup$
    – cheesecake
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Not at the state level, no. One could use an input-output matrix and some gravity model-style assumptions along with state GDP data to create a plausible model of trade between states, but there's no actual set of balance of payments accounts for states. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 18:30

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