These Are The 10 Worst Places In North Carolina To Get A Job

Chris Kolmar
by Chris Kolmar
Rankings - 3 years ago
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North Carolina has it all — beaches, mountains, college sports, food, and, for the most part, jobs.

But certain parts of the Tar Heel State do a much better job at helping you get employed than others.

To help you better understand parts of the state that might not be gold mines, we decided to sit down and look at the data to pin-point the under-performers of North Carolina.

After many hours of analysis, we arrived at this list of the worst places in North Carolina to get a job:

  1. Roanoke Rapids
  2. Laurinburg
  3. Tarboro
  4. Edenton
  5. Rockingham
  6. Lumberton
  7. Henderson
  8. Mount Airy
  9. Elizabeth City
  10. Marion

Read on to find out how we determined which places would be the first ones fired from North Carolina.

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How We Determined The Worst Places For Jobs In The Tar Heel State

After getting the data for about 740 places in North Carolina, we ultimately decided to limit our analysis to places with over 5,000 people to keep things as apples to apples as possible.

That left us with 146 places.

We then ranked each place across a number of criteria from one to 146, with 146 being the worst.

Finally, we then took the average rank across all criteria, with the place posting the highest overall score gaining the title “Worst Place For Jobs In North Carolina”.

The criteria we looked at were:

Population: 15,783
Unemployment Rate: 9.00%
Median Household Income: $35,388

Roanoke Rapids takes the dubious distinction as the worst place in North Carolina to get a job.

A crumbing textile industry has a lot to do with its poor recent performance for job growth (2nd worst overall) and expectations for future job growth (2nd worst).

Combine poor job growth with a relatively high unemployment rate (5th worst overall) and it’s not hard to see why Roanoke Rapids took this spot in our analysis.

2. Laurinburg

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user robcoyle

Population: 15,965
Unemployment Rate: 11.60%
Median Household Income: $26,895

Laurinburg comes in second on our list of the worst places in North Carolina to get a job, but not for lack of trying.

Some how the small city avoided the top spot even though it pulled out the triple crown of thorns — worst unemployment, recent job growth, and future job growth of all the places we looked at in North Carolina.

Its saving grace? A relatively lower sales tax.

3. Tarboro

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: City-Data

Population: 11,401
Unemployment Rate: 10.20%
Median Household Income: $33,168

Ranking in 3rd place, Tarboro, the county seat of Edgecombe County, takes a seat on our list as one of the worst places to get a job in North Carolina.

The second highest unemployment rate in the state for the places we analyzed and a bottom ten finishing in future job growth earned Tarboro this ranking.

That being said, the city had the strongest recent growth of any city in the bottom ten.

4. Edenton

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user twbuckner

Population: 5,037
Unemployment Rate: 7.40%
Median Household Income: $27,854

Edenton, the smallest town on our list. manages to beat a lot of its bigger brothers to take fourth place.

The town had the 3rd lowest recent growth rate and sixth lowest prospective growth rate. Its median household income ranks as the 11th lowest out of the 146 places we analyzed.

5. Rockingham

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: City-Data

Population: 9,524
Unemployment Rate: 8.00%
Median Household Income: $30,995

The fifth worst place to get a job in North Carolina, Rockingham follows a similar path as the places prior to it within the ranking.

Recent job growth pose a problem for Rockingham, along with an unemployment rate that marks as the 11th worst in the state.

A relatively high median household income prevented the town from placing ahead of Edenton.

6. Lumberton

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user Gerry Dincher

Population: 21,595
Unemployment Rate: 8.80%
Median Household Income: $32,383

Lumberton ranks as the 6th worst place for jobs in North Carolina.

The biggest city in the worst 10 places, Lumberton’s statistic mimic Tarboro — relatively (for the bottom ten) strong recent job growth that doesn’t make up for the current level of unemployment.

7. Henderson

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Learn NC

Population: 15,389
Unemployment Rate: 8.70%
Median Household Income: $26,353

The county seat of Vance County, Henderson stands as the lone representative of the county on our list of the worst places in North Carolina to get a job.

A low median household income (7th worst) and high unemployment (7th worst) held Henderson back.

Relatively low sales taxes prevented the city from appearing higher on the list.

8. Mount Airy

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Flickr user jmd41280

Population: 10,449
Unemployment Rate: 6.30%
Median Household Income: $30,949

Coming in 8th is Mount Airy.

Not take the air out of its sails, but slow recent job growth and a median household income in the bottom 20% of places in North Carolina landed Mount Airy on this list.

However, the city is at the top of the (small) mountain when it comes to unemployment rate — it has the best of any place in our ten worst.

9. Elizabeth City

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 18,645
Unemployment Rate: 8.30%
Median Household Income: $33,000

Located in Pasquotank County in eastern North Carolina, Elizabeth City just cracked our top ten at number 9.
The city’s unemployment rate, recent job growth, and future job growth all placed in the bottom ten for places in North Carolina.

It almost seems like the city takes a ride on the Dismal Swamp Canal when it comes to getting a job.

10. Marion

Worst Places For Jobs In North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,997
Unemployment Rate: 6.60%
Median Household Income: $24,775

And rounding out the 10 worst places to get a job in North Carolina is Marion.

Located almost as far away from Elizabeth City as possible in western North Carolina, it took a different path into the top ten. Namely, Marion has the lowest median household income of any city in the top ten.

On the bright side, the Blue Ridge Mountains are only a rocks throw away.

Demotion Status Complete

There you have it when it comes to the worst places to get a job.

The big cities of North Carolina define the state’s job market — the further you live from Raleigh, Charlotte, and Asheville, the harder jobs are to come by.

Interestingly enough, no two places border one another forming something of a shotgun pattern around the state.

A shotgun pattern of weak job prospects that is.

Detailed Stats For Worst Places In North Carolina To Get A Job

City Population Job Score Rank
Roanoke Rapids 15,783 12.6 1
Laurinburg 15,965 13 2
Tarboro 11,401 18.6 3
Edenton 5,037 18.6 4
Rockingham 9,524 18.8 5
Lumberton 21,595 19.4 6
Henderson 15,389 19.8 7
Mount Airy 10,449 20 8
Elizabeth City 18,645 20.6 9
Marion 7,997 21 10
Hamlet 6,554 21.2 11
Spring Lake 12,465 23.6 12
Forest City 7,480 23.8 13
Salisbury 33,548 23.8 14
Washington 9,731 24.4 15
Eden 15,488 27.2 16
Jacksonville 69,393 28 17
Sanford 28,081 31.2 18
Reidsville 14,463 32.2 19
Rocky Mount 57,523 32.2 19
Ahoskie 5,074 32.8 21
Hope Mills 15,139 33.2 22
Asheboro 25,109 34 23
Whiteville 5,347 34.8 24
Newton 12,991 35 25
Williamston 5,484 35.6 26
Lenoir 18,171 35.8 27
Wilson 49,086 36.2 28
Havelock 20,670 37 29
Boone 17,261 39.6 30
James City 6,013 39.8 31
Kill Devil Hills 6,714 40.4 32
Nashville 5,319 41.8 33
Lexington 19,038 42.4 34
Half Moon 8,374 42.4 35
New Bern 29,420 42.4 36
St. Stephens 8,751 42.8 37
Morganton 16,932 43.8 38
Piney Green 13,975 43.8 38
Sawmills 5,200 44.4 40
Trinity 6,639 44.8 41
Conover 8,118 45.2 42
High Point 104,394 46 43
Pineville 7,562 47 44
Roxboro 8,400 47.4 45
Archdale 11,205 48 46
Hickory 40,075 48.8 47
Wadesboro 5,795 49.2 48
Thomasville 26,760 50 49
Greensboro 270,619 50.6 50
Oxford 8,518 51.2 51
Kinston 21,746 53.2 52
Lake Norman Of Catawba 6,907 53.2 52
Stokesdale 5,002 54.6 54
Fayetteville 200,439 54.8 55
Dunn 9,310 55.6 56
Brevard 7,566 56.2 57
Statesville 24,803 57.4 58
Winston-Salem 230,030 57.8 59
Kernersville 23,062 58.2 60
Graham 14,152 58.4 61
Summerfield 10,160 58.4 61
Oak Ridge 6,202 58.6 63
Goldsboro 36,738 59 64
Kannapolis 42,845 59.8 65
Butner 7,566 61 66
Burlington 50,355 61.8 67
Mocksville 5,034 62 68
Bessemer City 5,372 63 69
Clemmons 18,680 63.8 70
Elon 9,354 64 71
Lewisville 12,785 65.6 72
Mebane 11,502 66 73
Morehead City 8,720 66.2 74
Mint Hill 22,890 66.8 75
Gibsonville 6,377 67.2 76
Cherryville 5,765 67.6 77
Shelby 20,331 68.2 78
Cornelius 24,818 68.8 79
Davidson 10,903 69 80
Gastonia 71,865 69 80
Huntersville 46,656 69.2 82
Lincolnton 10,536 69.8 83
Clinton 8,640 71.2 84
King 6,659 71.6 85
Greenville 84,445 72.8 86
Mount Holly 13,506 72.8 86
Winterville 9,117 73 88
Charlotte 740,931 73.8 89
Belmont 10,156 75.2 90
Kings Mountain 10,835 75.2 90
Aberdeen 6,311 76 92
Albemarle 15,913 77.4 93
Wrightsboro 5,487 78.8 94
Durham 229,963 79 95
Monroe 33,101 79 95
Carrboro 19,702 79.4 97
Waynesville 9,864 80.4 98
Siler City 7,967 80.8 99
Hillsborough 6,114 81.4 100
Harrisburg 11,360 82 101
Boiling Spring Lakes 5,329 82.2 102
Oak Island 6,899 83 103
Silver Lake 5,622 84 104
Kings Grant 8,201 84.6 105
Southern Pines 12,439 85.4 106
Carolina Beach 5,755 85.8 107
Mooresville 32,462 85.8 107
Selma 6,125 86.4 109
Woodfin 6,044 86.8 110
Chapel Hill 57,088 87 111
Murraysville 13,850 87 111
Black Mountain 7,885 87.2 113
Wilmington 107,116 87.2 113
Unionville 6,020 87.4 115
Indian Trail 33,246 87.8 116
Ogden 6,688 88.6 117
Concord 79,171 88.8 118
Smithfield 11,118 89 119
Leland 13,732 89.4 120
Myrtle Grove 8,652 89.8 121
Waxhaw 9,743 90.2 122
Stallings 13,638 90.6 123
Asheville 83,796 91.8 124
Porters Neck 5,873 92 125
Wesley Chapel 7,462 92.6 126
Hendersonville 13,122 92.8 127
Pinehurst 14,000 93.2 128
Weddington 9,577 93.2 128
Marvin 5,484 93.4 130
Etowah 6,865 95.6 131
Seven Lakes 5,533 95.8 132
Fletcher 7,089 97 133
Matthews 27,516 99.6 134
Wendell 5,892 100.8 135
Mills River 6,806 104.4 136
Clayton 16,078 108 137
Fuquay-Varina 18,143 111.6 138
Garner 25,784 114.2 139
Raleigh 405,007 114.4 140
Knightdale 11,567 115.4 141
Morrisville 18,566 116 142
Holly Springs 24,663 117.6 143
Wake Forest 29,889 122 144
Apex 37,589 123 145
Cary 136,627 123.4 146

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