County Distress Rankings (Tiers)

2018 County Tier Designations

The North Carolina Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a Tier designation. This Tier system is incorporated into 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.

2018 County Tier Designations (published November 29, 2017)

County Tiers are calculated using four factors:

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

The law governing County Tier status also further specifies automatic qualifying criteria for Tier 1 and Tier 2 status: Tier 1 Automatic Qualifiers include:

  • 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 2 Automatic Qualifier:

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

Download a chart with North Carolina's County Average Private Sector Wages here.

2018 County Tier Designations

County Tier
Alamance 2
Alexander 2
Alleghany 1
Anson 1
Ashe 1
Avery 2
Beaufort 2
Bertie 1
Bladen 1
Brunswick 3
Buncombe 3
Burke 2
Cabarrus 3
Caldwell 2
Camden 1
Carteret 3
Caswell 1
Catawba 2
Chatham 3
Cherokee 1
Chowan 1
Clay 1
Cleveland 2
Columbus 1
Craven 2
Cumberland 2
Currituck 2
Dare 2
Davidson 2
Davie 2
Duplin 2
Durham 3
Edgecombe 1
Forsyth 2
Franklin 2
Gaston 2
Gates 1
Gramham 1
Granville 3
Geene 1
Guilford 2
Halifax 1
Harnett 2
Haywood 3
Henderson 3
Hertford 1
Hoke 2
Hyde 1
Iredell 3
Jackson 1
Johnston 3
Jones 1
Lee 2
Lenoir 1
Lincoln 3
Macon 1
Madison 2
Martin 1
McDowell 1
Mecklenburg 3
Mitchell 1
Montgomery 1
Moore 3
Nash 2
New Hanover 3
Northampton 1
Onslow 2
Orange 3
Pamlico 2
Pasquotank 1
Pender 3
Perquimans 1
Person 1
Pitt 2
Polk 2
Randolph 2
Richmond 1
Robeson 1

Rockingham

2
Rowan 2
Rutherford 2
Sampson 2
Scotland 1
Stanly 2
Stokes 2
Surry 2
Swain 1
Transylvania 2
Tyrrell 1
Union 3
Vance 1
Wake 3
Warren 1
Washington 1
Watauga 3
Wayne 2
Wilkes 2
Wilson 2
Yadkin 1
Yancey 1