Quality Magazine

North Carolina's Manufacturing Sector On the Rise

April 4, 2012

EVANSTON, IL-Industrial employment in North Carolina increased slightly over the past 12 months, according to data collected by the 2012 North Carolina Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News, Inc. (MNI) Evanston, IL. MNI reports North Carolina gained 1,587 industrial jobs between January 2011 and January 2012, the first time the company recorded a gain in North Carolina's manufacturing employment since 2006.

Manufacturers' News reports North Carolina is now home to 10,387 manufacturers employing 559,630 workers.

"The recovery is gaining momentum in North Carolina and across the U.S," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "The state's educated workforce, friendly business environment, and investments in green technologies have been a draw for a variety of enterprises."

Bright spots over the year included the opening of a Novartis vaccine manufacturing plant in Holly Springs; the establishment of a new Caterpillar plant in Winston-Salem; and the planned opening of a Siemens gas turbine plant in Charlotte. In addition, Cooper-Standard Automotive announced an expansion of its Goldsboro auto-supply facility; Merck is expanding its Durham vaccine plant; CMS Food Solutions plans to open a biotech manufacturing site in Leland; and Medicago opened a biotech plant in Research Triangle Park, which will manufacture flu vaccines using tobacco plants.

Industrial machinery and equipment ranks as the state's largest industrial sector by employment with 64,470 jobs, up 4.4% over the year. Textiles/apparel ranks second with 61,436 jobs, down 2.2%, due partially to the closures of Mohawk Industries in Laurel Hill and Dodger Industries in Clinton. Food products manufacturing ranks third with 56,125 jobs, down 1.7%, following the closure of Townsends, Inc.'s chicken processing plants in Siler City and Mocksville and the shuttering of ConAgra's Slim Jim plant in Garner.

MNI reports sectors that gained jobs over the past 12 months included fabricated metals, up 4.6%; paper products, up 3.5%; electronics, up 2.8% and chemicals, up 1%. Losses were seen in furniture/fixtures, down 5.4%; stone/clay/glass, down 4.9%; lumber/wood, down 4%; printing/publishing, down 2.7% and primary metals, down 1%.

The Northwest region of North Carolina accounts for the largest share of the state's manufacturing employment, with 248,751 jobs, down 1.2%. The Northeast region accounts for 138,990 jobs, virtually unchanged over the year. The Southwest is home to 111,045 jobs, up 4.4%, while the Southeast accounts for 60,844, down 1.4%.

Charlotte remains the state's top city by industrial employment with 41,967 manufacturing jobs, up 3% over the past 12 months. Greensboro accounts for 29,059 jobs, with no significant change reported. Jobs remained steady in Research Triangle Park with the third-ranked city currently home to 21,484 industrial workers, while High Point accounts for 14,868 jobs, down 3.9%. Fifth-ranked Winston-Salem accounts for 14,470 jobs, up 2.2% over the past 12 months.