Manufacturing Matters

Manufacturing matters in North Carolina because our manufacturers lead the world in many products and industries. North Carolina has been the most productive manufacturing state in the Southeast for over a decade.

Manufacturing Matters

Manufacturing Matters – Roundtable

Manufacturing Matters


Does manufacturing matter to you? It better.

Why? Because almost everything we use and enjoy on a daily basis, from clothing and furniture to equipment for transportation and entertainment, was manufactured somewhere. It may have been made by a husband-and-wife team in their living room, or by a small team in a rented storefront, or by a multi-national corporation in a state-of-the-art factory, but the products we use did not spring into being overnight by our wishing for them. From our computers to our telephones to our automobiles, from our houses to our schools to our workplaces, manufacturing matters because we rely on it every day.

Manufacturing matters in North Carolina because our manufacturers lead the world in many products and industries. North Carolina has been the most productive manufacturing state in the Southeast for over a decade. In addition to making the products we all use, our manufacturers employ North Carolinians in challenging and rewarding work and provide the basis for stable, diverse communities.

Manufacturing Matters to North Carolina because:

  • Manufacturers in North Carolina account for 18.31% of the total output in the state, employing 10.56% of the workforce. Total output from manufacturing was $103.59 billion in 2018.
  • There were an average of 474,000 manufacturing employees in North Carolina in 2018, with an average annual compensation of $70,701.95 in 2017.
  • Manufacturers help to drive North Carolina’s economy, with $31.06 billion in manufactured goods exports in 2018.
  • In 2018, we traded $14.22 billion worth of exports with our free trade agreement (FTA) partners. This helps create jobs in the state, and 20.60%.
  • Small businesses comprised 88.00% percent of all exporters in North Carolina.
  • Chemical product manufacturing provides the highest contribution to state GDP while Food Production ranks second. However, Food Production employs the most people within manufacturing, with chemical production a close second.

Manufacturing Matters to the U.S. as a whole, too, as the National Association of Manufacturers points out:

  • Manufacturing value-added output increased from $2.444 trillion in the first quarter to $2.525 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, an all-time high.
  • For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy.
  • The majority of manufacturing firms in the United States are quite small. In 2018, there were 246,155 firms in the manufacturing sector, with all but 3,960 firms considered to be small (i.e., having fewer than 500 employees).
  • As of October 2021, there were 12.5 million employees in the manufacturing sector.
  • In 2020, manufacturing workers in the United States earned $92,832 on average, including pay and benefits.
  • Manufactured goods exports have grown substantially to our largest trading partners since 1990, including to Canada, Mexico and even China.
  • Over the next decade, 4 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2.1 million are expected to go unfilled if we do not inspire more people to pursue modern manufacturing careers.

North Carolina 

  • There are 10,861 manufacturing firms in North Carolina, based on 2022 data (BLS).
  • North Carolina ranks 6th in the nation for its manufacturing contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on data for 2021 (BEA).
  • North Carolina manufacturing contributes 3.25% of total US manufacturing output (2020 data).
  • North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing (2021 data, BEA).
  • Out of all industrial sectors in North Carolina, as of 2021, manufacturing is second for GDP contribution at 16%, behind Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Rental and Leasing (BEA)
  • Manufacturing employs 473,065 workers in the state. The average hourly rate is $32.00, according to 2022 data (BLS).
  • The weekly wages in manufacturing place it 8th among the state’s 19 industrial sectors (2022 BLS data). Manufacturing wages are higher on average than healthcare and social assistance, transportation and construction.
  • Fabricated metal production has the highest number of establishments; food manufacturing employs the most, with chemical production coming in second, according to 2022 BLS data.
  • Small manufacturers are the backbone of the sector. Of the 10,861 manufacturing companies in North Carolina, 90% have fewer than 100 employees (2022 BLS)
*Sources: US Bureau of Economic Analysis and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

So, regardless of who you are or where you live, whether you make products or use them, Manufacturing Matters.

Join our mailing list to receive conference details and North Carolina manufacturing news.