North Carolina manufacturing employment is on the upswing, a trend supported by new jobs in growing technology industries such as pharmaceuticals and aviation.

The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center detailed the findings in a new report released Monday released today. The center says total North Carolina manufacturing jobs increased in 2011 – the first increase in the state in 16 years. The job growth continued in 2012.

The center says manufacturing accounts for 440,000 North Carolina jobs today. In rural parts of North Carolina, manufacturing accounts for 14 percent of total employment and $9.3 billion in annual wages, according to the center.

The center’s 54-page report includes details on what it calls the 25 manufacturing clusters that employ the most people in North Carolina.

Older manufacturing clusters such as textiles, furniture and vehicle components have stabilized and the surviving manufacturers have become leaner and more innovative. Meanwhile, manufacturing in the state has diversified to include emerging clusters in high-tech fields.

For example, the emerging aviation and aerospace cluster employed 3,894 in 2012 with an average annual wage of $71,688.

Medical and dental instruments and supplies, another emerging cluster, employed 3,678 who earned an average of $44,238 a year.

Electronics and pharmaceuticals and biological products are the dominant manufacturing clusters in the Triangle, according to the report. 

The center calls on Gov. Pat McCrory to create a North Carolina Manufacturing Council advise the governor, the General Assembly, and agencies such as the North Carolina Department of Commerce on manufacturing issues. The center said it would issue a second report with additional recommendations in March.