From an editorial published Sunday in the Fayetteville Observer:
Rich state, poor state. Growing state, stagnant state, shrinking state. North Carolina is all of that, depending on where you’re standing.
Refreshed U.S. Census data released last week give us a big insight into the trends that are driving this state’s economy.
As expected, the Triangle is booming. The Raleigh metro area is leading the state in growth. And it’s leading most of the country, as well, showing the 15th-fastest growth rate in the United States.
The Charlotte metro area isn’t far behind, its growth ranking 24th in the nation. Between them, they added nearly 50,000 residents in the 12 months that ended last July 1.
Those are the areas of the state also showing the most robust job and wage growth. That’s why people are flocking there from other parts of the state and across the country.
But about half of the state’s 100 counties – mostly rural – have lost population since the 2010 census. The loss leader is Northampton County, which sits on the Virginia border, about 40 miles west of Elizabeth City.
The county has lost 7 percent of its residents since 2010.
Rural counties might grow if they had jobs. They don’t. That’s the underlying story here: The state’s efforts to rebuild our economy after the recession were a dramatic success in big cities and a dismal failure in small towns and farm country.
The governor and General Assembly dropped old development programs and introduced new ones. So far, they’re not working. A tuneup is in order.