NC Commerce

North Carolina Department of Commerce

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2015 County Tier Designations


The N.C. Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a Tier designation. The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3. This Tier system is incorporated into various state programs to encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state.


2015 County Tier Designations
published November 26, 2014


County Tiers are calculated using four factors:

  • Average unemployment rate
  • Median household income
  • Percentage growth in population
  • Adjusted property tax base per capita

The County Tier statute further specifies automatic qualifying criteria for Tier One and Tier Two status:

Tier One Automatic Qualifiers

  • A county must be Tier 1 for at least two consecutive years
  • A county with less than 12,000 people
  • A county with a population less than 50,000 people AND a poverty rate of 19 percent or greater

Tier Two Automatic Qualifier

  • A county with a population less than 50,000 people




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