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.
County Tiers are calculated using four factors:
- Average unemployment rate
- Median household income
- Percentage growth in population
- Adjusted property tax base per capita
IPDC county tiers for 2021 are:
- Cleveland County – Tier 1 (Most Distressed)
- McDowell County – Tier 2
- Polk County – Tier 3
- Rutherford County – Tier 1(Most Distressed)