North Carolina gained 7,319 manufacturing jobs in 2012, according to data from Manufacturers' News Inc.
The 1.3 percent in manufacturing employment marks the first notable gain for the Tar Heel State in nearly a decade.
North Carolina is home to 10,208 manufacturers employing 565,784 workers, according to Manufacturers' News, which publishes industrial directories and databases.
"North Carolina's manufacturing sector continues to improve," says Tom Dubin, president of Manufacturers' News. "The state's educated workforce, low business costs and its reputation as a center for innovation continue to be a draw for new business."
Textiles and apparel – historically North Carolina's biggest source of manufacturing jobs – has taken a back seat to industrial machinery and equipment.
The industrial machinery and equipment sector now ranks first in the state with 64,262 jobs, followed by textiles and apparel with 60,701 jobs.
However, after losing one-third of its manufacturing jobs between 2007 and 2011, employment in the textile and apparel sector remained steady in 2012, according to Manufacturers' News.
The food-products sector ranks third in employment with 59,059 jobs. Employment in the sector rose by 3.4 percent in 2012.
Employment in industrial machinery and equipment rose by 1 percent last year.
Hot sectors in the state included instruments, which was up 7.2 percent, and transportation equipment, which was up 6.4 percent.
Charlotte remains North Carolina's top city for manufacturing employment with 43,160 jobs, a 3.4 percent increase.
Second-ranked Greensboro is home to 29,817 jobs, a 2.6 percent increase in 2012.