North Carolina: Facts and Figures

North Carolina is a major player in the world economy, exporting more than $28 billion worth of goods to global markets like Mexico and China. North Carolina’s exports include chemicals, automotive, and transportation goods, which are increasingly important to economic growth and job creation. In fact, international trade supports over 1.2 million North Carolina jobs.

Job Creation

  • In North Carolina, 1,216,600 jobs were supported by international trade in 2018, representing 20.10% of all jobs in the state.1,2
  • In 2019, 11,015 companies exported goods from North Carolina of which 87% were small- and medium-sized enterprises. In 2018, 288,900 people were employed by affiliates of companies at least 50% foreign-owned.3,4

Exports and Growth

  • North Carolina exported $28.4 billion in goods to foreign markets in 2020, a 17% decline compared to 2019 driven by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.5
    • Canada ($5.9 billion)
    • Mexico ($3.5 billion)
    • China ($2.7 billion)
    • France ($1.2 billion)
    • Netherlands ($1.1 billion)
  • Agricultural exports are important to North Carolina's' economy, totaling $3.4 billion in 2019, according to the USDA.6
  • Since 2014, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has financed $2 billion in exports from 150 companies in North Carolina.7
  • Since 1971, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation - which has been modernized into the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) - has invested $1.1 billion in North Carolina companies for overseas investment.8
  • Since 1992, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped facilitate $141 million in exports from North Carolina companies, supporting an estimated 590 jobs in the state.9

Education and Research

  • In 2018-2019, 13,747 North Carolina students studied abroad.10
  • During 2020, 22,782 international students were enrolled in North Carolina colleges and universities and contributed $713 million to the North Carolina economy.10

Global Engagement

  • Since 1961, 4,732 Peace Corps volunteers from North Carolina have served in dozens of countries overseas.11