Census shows troubling signs locally

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New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau underline a trend that few of us in the Twin Counties want to see.

We’re losing people.

Not a lot. But when we think of the health of a community, a growing, vibrant population is one of the first signs we all want to see.

Between 2010 and 2012, Rocky Mount’s population dipped from 57,471 to 57,136. The population in Nash County dropped from 95,517 in 2012 to 95,093 in 2013. Edgecombe County’s population dropped from 55,736 in 2012 to 55,574 in 2013.

At the same time, North Carolina’s population continued to increase, from about 9.75 million in 2012 to almost 9.85 million in 2013.

We can bellyache all day about the state of our community – Is it still a desirable place to live and raise a family? Is it as pretty as it used to be? Do we have a quality of life that attracts folks from other locations?

But there can be little doubt that one of the biggest drains on our population is our high unemployment rate. When more than 10 percent of the available workforce is out of work, families are going to move to find jobs elsewhere.

That trend is the single biggest issue facing local political leaders, the business community, school systems, churches and practically every other institution you can think of. Declinining population means a smaller tax base, a weaker economy, diminished support for churches and nonprofit organizations. At the same time, the number of people among us who need help continues to escalate.

The Top 3 agenda items for every county commissioner and every member of every municipal council should be jobs, jobs, jobs.

Until our unemployment rate returns to a number that approaches the state average, we’ll continue to say goodbye to friends and neighbors.

Editor's note: This editorial has been updated to correct a typo in the comparison of Rocky Mount's population in 2012.

Comments

What tickles the hell out of me is

Everybody got the answers but what are they doing? Since you have the answers why don't you run? I always read about the lack of leadership then why wait for someone else to step to the plate, why not you? But one thing about it so many folks don't know their role. Citizens, politicians, elected officials and individuals on whatever level has a role to play. Also when did the citizens get to completely choose what is best for all when you have elected folks who have a vote? Again when you know your role then you can make a difference. Actually all you have is a vote unless you get in a leadership role where you can make a difference then you can keep talking and talking. But don't forget who has the votes and that they will not vote to please everyone. Do you not know that everyone didn't vote for them and do you know even those who didn't vote from them benefit in some form or fashion from what the ELECTED officials do!

Hard to respond

I saw this comment and I was trying to picture the author. Really pissed off, really concerned or on something.

Utilities

I manage rental property in Rocky Mount and the number one question I get is, do you have anything that is not on Rocky Mount Utilities. Properties on Progress Energy, and Edgecombe Martin rent far better than any others. People pay increased rent to get out of Rocky Mount Utilities control. Secondly, they ask if an area is safe. We of course make not claims about that in any neighborhoods but the fact that people ask demonstrates that crime is a big issue. Third, people are leaving our properties to go find jobs that pay enough to survive.

Why ?

Rocky Mount "is still a desirable place to live " Really ? First time I've ever heard that...

Jobs Yes, But Look at Root Causes

I agree that the creation of jobs should be a major objective for all city & county leaders. Yet, I do believe that your article is missing a primary point concerning Rocky Mount. Yes, a lack of jobs has resulted in some migration away from Rocky Mount; however, I would suggest that a greater percentage of those leaving were actually foks who were employed and doing OK even during these tight economic times; the unemployed and those who have "removed themselves from the workforce" are not going anywhere. Those who left were educated, professional folks who spent money locally, supported charities, volunteered their time and generally contributed to the well-being of Rocky Mount. Unfortunately, "quality of life" issues have led to more of those people choosing to simply get away from this dying City. Now many would say that crime is the primary reason for that, and while it is an important issue, I do believe it goes much deeper than simply saying we have a serious crime problem. I've lived here all my life - over 50 years - and I've seen family, friends, neighbors and business associates move away because they were simply fed up with the infighting, bickering, racial tensions, dispair, trash ridden roadways, the schools, etc...but most importantly, a general lack of true leadership within the region. And when I say lack of leadership, I'm not just pointing a finger at certain elected officials, this void in Rocky Mount is found in government, nongovernment, nonprofit as well as some faith-based institutions. Until some real leaders can step forward and put-aside their egos, arrogance and desire to control everything, we are doomed to see more and more good folks simply leave and not look back. WE must learn to both give and take on important matters and we must be willing to collaborate as a region. Now excuse me while I go pack a few more boxes.

A City On The Rise?

Your editorial in right on point. The only things I would add are not just jobs but, good paying jobs and improved education. We have to make improvements in those areas to even remotely consider ourselves as A City On The Rise.

Nothing new

Nothing new in this Editorial

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