County Distress Rankings (Tiers)

2022 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.

Review the 2022 County Tier Designations Memo (published November 30, 2021)

County Tiers are calculated using four factors:

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

You'll find detailed information about the Tiers system and current county rankings below.

2022 County Tier Designations

Tier Ranking by County

Tier Ranking by County

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

Rockingham

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

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

We've gathered answers to the most common questions we're hearing about the state's County Distress Rankings, also known as the County Tiers system.

Additional Reference | County Average Wages

Additional Reference | County Average Wages

For your convenience, you can download a chart with North Carolina's County Average Private Sector Wages here.  Please note, however, that this wage statistic is not used in the calculation methodology that determines these Tier rankings.