What Are The Biggest Industries In North Carolina?

The American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, North Carolina. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com.
The American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, North Carolina. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com.

North Carolina is one of the states in the US found in the southeastern part of the country. It is the 9th densely populated and the 28th largest state in the US. The state of North Carolina shares its borders with Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. The state capital of North Carolina is Raleigh while the largest city is Charlotte. As of 2018, Raleigh metropolitan area had a population of 1.3 million people, and it hosted the largest research park in the country, which includes Research Triangle Park in Chapel Hill. Charlotte metropolitan area had a population of 2.5 million people in the same year, and it was the most populous metropolitan area in the state and the 23rd most populous metropolitan area in the US. North Carolina in 1789 became the 12th, state to ratify the country's constitution, and in 1861 it declared its cessation and joined the confederate states. On June 25, 1868, North Carolina was restored to the Union after the Civil War. 


North Carolina has a long history as a producer of tobacco. The state is still famous for producing items such as sweet potatoes, tobacco, and poultry. It is ranked as the second-largest producer of Christmas trees, turkeys, trout, and hogs. Approximately 65% of the income from farming is generated from animal sales, while 35% is attributed to sales from crops. The total annual income from farm produce in the state is about $15 billion ranking the state as the sixth in the country, in total income from the farming output. The agriculture industry accounts for $84 billion or 17% of the state gross domestic product of $482 billion. Some of the crops cultivated in the state, particularly in the mountain sections include vegetables, fruits, hay, barley, oats, wheat, sweet corn, and tobacco, among others. In the northwestern mountains and on the foothills, cattle rearing is widely practiced, as well as keeping of chicken. The Piedmont region cultivates all the crops found in the mountains, including cotton, which is a stable cash crop in the region.

Tourism industry

North Carolina is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, and it is ranked as the sixth in the entire country according to the number of tourists visiting the state. The state has a broad range of tourist attractions spread throughout the state, and each year, North Carolina receives more than 30 million tourists contributing significantly to the economy of the state. The tourism industry in North Carolina has experienced growth despite the economic recession it was witnessed around the year 2000. North Carolina received about 35.9 million visitors in 2009. The tourism industry plays a significant role in the economy of North Carolina. In 2009, it was estimated that the expenditures in tourism and its related activities accounted for about 4% of the economy of the state, generating $20.2 billion annually. It also supports about 8.7% of the salaried and wage employment in the state. The industry generates more than $2.2 billion in taxes to the federal government and $2.1 billion in taxes to the state and local governments.


North Carolina has a vibrant manufacturing industry and manufactures a wide range of products such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco. North Carolina is the country's leader in tobacco manufacturing. There are numerous industries producing chemicals such as synthetic fibers, cleaning products, and pharmaceuticals, among others. Items such as electronic communication equipment and computer products are produced in the state. North Carolina is ranked at position five in the entire country in the production of manufactured goods, which accounts for 4.6% of all manufactured goods in the US. The state is the leader in manufactured items in the southeast region of the country. The manufacturing industry accounts for a large portion of the economy of North Carolina, accounting for approximately 20% of the GDP in the state. The industry employs 460,000 people, and chemical products are the leading sub-sector in the manufacturing industry. Small scale manufacturers in North Carolina are the majority in the industry, and out of the 10,400 manufacturing organizations, 80% have less than 50 employees, and about 51% have less than nine employees working in the company.

Energy Industry

North Carolina is not a producer of natural gas or oil, but potential shale and natural gas have been identified. The state imports gas and oil from other countries and other states within the US. Similarly, coal-fired power generation uses coal imported from elsewhere, particularly from Kentucky and West Virginia. Most of the electricity generated in North Carolina uses coal, followed by nuclear and natural gas. The leading sectors in the consumption of energy in the state are the residential and transport sectors followed by industrial and commercial sectors.

Other Industries In North Carolina

Other leading industries in North Carolina include the automotive manufacturing industry, which employs 388,000 people. The state is home to more than 160 manufacturers of automotive, truck, and heavy equipment. Honda has established its plant in Haw River, while Volvo and Meritor have many plants in different parts of the state. North Carolina is home to the vibrant aerospace aviation and defense industry. There are more than 180 manufacturing companies in Aerospace components, which include Boeing having a plant in New Bern. Cessna has a plant in Greensboro, while Lockheed Martin has a plant in Raleigh. More than 9,500 people are working in different high-skilled positions across the Aerospace manufacturing companies in North Carolina. Biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences are other big industries in the state of North Carolina. Major companies in the industry include LapCorp, Novo Nordisk, and Pfizer. Information and communication technology is another major industry in the state of North Carolina. Some of the companies in the industry which have established in the state of North Carolina include Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Other leading brands in the state include Flextronics, IBM, and Cisco, among others.


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