Since 2007 North Carolina has used a three-tier system for designating economic development status. 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 designations, which are mandated by state law, are incorporated into certain state programs to encourage economic activity. Tier 1 counties are the most distressed and Tier 3 is the least distressed.
The Department of Commerce recently released new tier designations and twenty-eight counties will change tiers in 2019 from their 2018 rankings. Counties moving to a less distressed tier ranking include Alleghany, Ashe, Camden, Cherokee, Clay, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Montgomery, Person, Yadkin, and Yancey (from Tier 1 to Tier 2); and Currituck and Davie (from Tier 2 to Tier 3). Counties moving to a more distressed tier ranking include Beaufort, Cleveland, Cumberland, Duplin, Hoke, Nash, Rockingham, Rutherford, Sampson, Surry, Wayne, and Wilson (from Tier 2 to Tier 1); and Carteret and Granville (from Tier 3 to Tier 2).