From its agricultural beginnings, Delaware has developed into an important industrial state. There are a total of three fortune 500 companies headquartered in Delaware. The incorporation industry employs about 1,000 people and brings in about onequarter of the state budget in taxes and fees. Wilmington is called the "Chemical Capital of the World," largely because of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., a chemical industry giant originally founded as a powder mill in 1802. As of 1999 the company was the 16th largest US industrial corporation, with sales of $28 billion. The Chrysler Corp. is another leading employer. Notable Delaware manufactures, in addition to chemicals and transportation equipment, include apparel, processed meats and vegetables, paper, printing and publishing, scientific instruments, and plastic products.

Earnings of persons employed in Delaware increased from $15.7 billion in 1997 to $16.9 billion in 1998, an increase of 7.9%. The largest industries in 1998 were services, 23.1% of earnings; nondurable goods manufacturing, 21.0%; and finance, insurance, and real estate, 13.8%. Of the industries that accounted for at least 5% of earnings in 1998, the slowest growing from 1997 to 1998 was nondurable goods manufacturing, which increased 1.6%; the fastest was finance, insurance, and real estate, which increased 15.3%.