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.