Industrial employment in New Hampshire fell 2.6 percent over the past 12 months according to the 2011 New Hampshire Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports New Hampshire lost 2,566 manufacturing jobs over the past year, a much smaller decline than the 5,509-job loss MNI reported over the 2008-2009 survey period.

Manufacturers' News reports New Hampshire is now home to 2,625 manufacturers employing 83,911 workers.

"New Hampshire's industrial sectors continue to be battered by the housing bust and the recession," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "However, we're definitely seeing fewer job losses than we did a year ago and the state's educated workforce and business-friendly environment should help improve the outlook."

Bright spots for the state included the expansion of chocolate maker Lindt in Stratham, which has opened up a new cocoa-processing facility; the expansion of Albany International Corporation's Rochester plant; and the re-opening of a Fraser Papers' mill in Gorham after it was bought by MM Consulting and Contracting, saving 240 jobs.

MNI reports industrial machinery and equipment remains New Hampshire's largest manufacturing sector by employment with 13,717 jobs, down 5.2 percent over the year, due partially to layoffs at Goss International. Second-ranked electronics manufacturing accounts for 13,656 jobs, down 1.4 percent over the year, while third-ranked fabricated metals accounts for 7,196 industrial jobs, down 5.4 percent, following the closure of Fisher Controls in Portsmouth, among others.

Most other sectors in New Hampshire lost jobs over the year and included paper products, down 16.1 percent; lumber/wood, down 14.7 percent; furniture/fixtures, down 13.8 percent; and rubber/plastics, down 9.2 percent, after the closures of Rexam Plastic Containers and Pretium Packaging Corp. among others. Printing/publishing declined 8.7 percent; transportation equipment was down 3.9 percent and food products was down 2.4 percent. Employment was steady in the chemicals and allied products sector, while textiles/apparel increased 1.8 percent.

MNI's city data shows Manchester is New Hampshire's top city for manufacturing employment, with 8,470 jobs, down 5.6 percent over the year. Nashua ranks second with 5,287 industrial jobs, up 9.1 percent, while Hudson is home to 4,620 jobs, down 7.7 percent over the past 12 months. Londonderry accounts for 4,435 jobs, down 1.4 percent, and fifth-ranked Keene accounts for 3,385 industrial workers, 4 percent fewer than a year ago.