NC Manufacturing – A Big Fish in a Big Pond

<p>Happy National Manufacturing Day! The American South is often considered a major manufacturing hub of North America. In addition, North Carolina specifically plays a significant role in that regional status. So, in light of today&#39;s national spotlight on manufacturing, let&rsquo;s investigate those claims using some manufacturing output and employment data relevant to both the Southeast and to North Carolina.</p>

Author: Steven Pennington

For decades, the American South has been a hub for manufacturing in North America. This trend has garnered plenty of media attention, like this Bloomberg Businessweek article detailing the South’s manufacturing position relative to rest of the nation. In light of this attention, as well as today's designation as National Manufacturing Day, we decided to dig into some manufacturing data relevant to the Southeast and to North Carolina specifically.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) publishes state and regional gross-domestic-product (GDP) data by industry back to 1997. Since that time, the Southeast Region has consistently contributed a larger share of the nation’s manufacturing GDP than any other region (the Great Lakes Region is often a close second). As shown in the following table, 22.7 percent of American manufacturing output came from the Southeast in 2013 (this table excludes the Plains, New England, and Rocky Mountain Regions, which collectively contributed 14.9 percent of American manufacturing output in 2013).

Within the South, North Carolina serves as a particularly crucial location for the manufacturing industry. In 2013, North Carolina’s manufacturing output made up 21.1 percent of the Southeast Region’s manufacturing GDP, the largest portion of any state.

North Carolina’s manufacturing output has been on the rise for years, having increased by more than 30 percent between 1997 and 2013. On the other hand, manufacturing jobs in North Carolina fell significantly over that period (though manufacturing job numbers have leveled off since 2009). This phenomenon of rising output in the face of declining jobs numbers is explained by increases in North Carolina manufacturing productivity. These productivity gains are proving to be very attractive to many businesses looking to locate or expand in the Southeast.

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