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Over the past century, North Carolina has grown to become a national leader in agriculture, financial services, and manufacturing. The state’s industrial output, mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and pulp/paper products, ranked eighth in the nation in the early 1990s. The textile industry, which was once a mainstay of the state’s economy, has been steadily losing jobs to producers in Latin America and Asia for the past 25 years, though the state remains the largest textile employer in the United States.

Over the past few years, another important Carolina industry, furniture production, has also been hard hit by jobs moving to Asia (especially China). North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the country. As one of North Carolina’s earliest sources of revenue, it remains vital to the local economy, although concerns about whether the federal government will continue to support subsidies for tobacco farmers has led some growers to switch to other crops like grapes for wine or leave farming altogether. Agriculture in the western counties of North Carolina (particularly Buncombe and surrounding counties) is presently experiencing a revitalization coupled with a shift to niche marketing, fueled by the growing demand for organic and local products.

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