County maintains distress-ranking status

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Beaufort County maintained its Tier 2 status in the latest rankings of the state’s 100 counties by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The commerce department releases the annual rankings as an indicator of each county’s economic well-being and uses them in various state programs to “encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state.”

The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3, according to a release from the commerce department.

County tiers are calculated using four factors, including average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage growth in population and adjusted property tax base per capita.

Beaufort County retained its Tier 2 status for the third straight year.

“My hope is that’s showing there is progress, that our economy is diversified,” said Beaufort County manager Brian Alligood. “We’re not getting hit with the big ups and downs and we’re staying steady. Overall I think it’s very positive.”

Beaufort County was ranked as the 45th most distressed of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Of the four factors used, Beaufort County ranked strongest in adjusted property tax base per capita at No. 75 with $143,714. It was ranked No. 24 most distressed in population growth at -1.28 percent.

The county ranked No. 43 in unemployment 12-month average at 3.77 percent and No. 48 in median household income at $50,253.
Alligood acknowledged that some might see advantages to being ranked more economically distressed, as such counties see a greater share of state incentives for growth programs.

“But I think I’d rather be a less-distressed county and get less incentives,” he said. “Being a strong Tier 2 and staying in that category, I think, bodes well for us and that’s where we want to be.”

Neighboring Pitt County was one of four counties reclassified as Tier 1, the most economically distressed.

“(Pitt) county’s economic distress rank is #34 (it was #43 in 2022),” according to the release. “This shift was largely driven by a change in the county’s median household income rank, which moved from #62 last year to #46 this year.”

Distress rankings for the remaining counties bordering Beaufort include Martin, Washington and Hyde designated as Tier 1; and Pamlico and Craven designated as Tier 2.