Agriculture is the main occupation of state. Since the opening of the railway in 1963 the city of Gombe has been a major collecting point for peanuts (groundnuts) and cotton. It is also a local trade centre in sorghum, millet, cowpeas, cassava (manioc), beans, onions, and tobacco, as well as for rearing cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and donkeys. Traditional crafts like weaving and the dyeing cotton are still practiced. The presence of limestone deposits led to the building of a cement factory at nearby Ashaka in the early 1970s. The period also saw the commencement of modern textile manufacturing. A seed-oil mill has been built and vegetable oil is processed in the state.
Gombe State has one federal university (Federal University, Kashere),one state university (Gombe State University), and a federal college of education. The state is also home to a school of nursing and midwifery; a school of health technology (located in Kaltungo); a college of administrative and business studies (currently being converted into a college of remedial studies); and the Federal College of Horticulture (located in Dadin Kowa).
Gombe State was carved out of the old Bauchi State in October 1996 by the military government of Sani Abacha.