North Carolina Urbanization and Rural Flight

Joe Gregorio

The rural areas of North Carolina are emptying out.

North Carolina County Population vs Count Population Growth Rate (2010 - 2014).
Click on the graph to toggle between population density and county population.

North Carolina is not immune to Rural Flight, nor is it a special victim, as the phenomenon is happening world wide. Countrysides around the world are emptying out.

It's important to keep these broader patterns in mind, first so you don't go blaming random local events that look like correlation:

Mary Hobbs has been living in Woodland for 50 years and said she has watched it slowly becoming a ghost town with no job opportunities for young people.

She said her home is surrounded by solar farms and is no longer worth its value because of those facilities.

And from the same article:

Bobby Mann said he watched communities dry up when I-95 came along and warned that would happen to Woodland because of the solar farms.

“You’re killing your town,” he said. “All the young people are going to move out.”

But also so that when trying to formulate policy we temper trying to stop rural flight, which is probably impossible, with programs to help with relocation and the humane winding down of rural towns, because the alternatives are pretty grim. And yes, let me state explicitly what I'm implying above, which is that people might have to move. Just like companies are not owed a business model, people aren't owed the job of their choice brought to their doorstop. But what should also be acknowledged is that moving for the poor is incredibly difficult and that any solutions proposed should address that gap.

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