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Pinehurst-Southern Pines Micropolitan Ranked #1 in NC and #10 in U.S. for Economic Strength

[Pinehurst, NC]  The Pinehurst-Southern Pines micropolitan not only maintained its position as the #1 micropolitan in  North Carolina for the 7th year in a row,  but this year it also ranked in the top 10 micropolitans in the United States, according to the 2024 Economic Strength Rankings recently released by POLICOM.

The Rankings show the Pinehurst-Southern Pines area is 1st out of 22 micropolitan statistical areas in North Carolina and 10th out of 543 micropolitan statistical areas in the United States. Pinehurst-Southern Pines moved up 11 places from its 2023 ranking, placing our area in the top 2% nationally of communities with a stable and consistently growing economy in 2024.

“Micropolitans” are statistical areas geographically defined by the U.S. Office of Management & Budget as a having an urbanized area with a population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000. They must include at least one county, and boundaries are primarily based on workforce and resident commuting patterns. The Pinehurst-Southern Pines micropolitan includes all of Moore County.

POLICOM, a Florida-based independent economic research firm, uses 23 economic factors measured over a 19-year period to analyze local and state economies annually to determine if a particular economy is growing or declining and why. The company looks at each metropolitan and micropolitan area across the country to evaluate the long-term tendency of each economy to consistently grow in both size and quality and also considers how an economy impacts the standard of living of the people who live and work in that area.

“In a world where economies constantly fluctuate and are influenced by so many variable factors, it’s extraordinary when a local economy like Moore County’s holds its place at the top year after year,” said Natalie Hawkins, President of Moore County Economic Development Partnership (MCEDP).

“I believe Moore County ranks so highly because of our consistent growth in the number of businesses, jobs, and wages. We’ve seen a 28% wage increase in the last four years, and new business creation and expansions of the retail and construction industries suggest more money is coming into our area. Increasing wages and business expansions year over year are what make our local economy strong,” Hawkins added.

Following Pinehurst-Southern Pines, the second highest North Carolina micropolitan in POLICOM’s rankings is Kill Devil Hills (#35 nationally), followed by Morehead City (#41 nationally) and Boone (#47 nationally). Notably, all 22 North Carolina micropolitans improved in economic strength over last year. The Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area ranked #4 out of 384 metropolitans nationwide.

The POLICOM report also noted that in 2023, the Office of Management & Budget announced new definitions for the statistical areas based on the 2020 census and revised commuting patterns, which resulted in changes to more than 200 areas. The 2025 Economic Strength Rankings will be based on the new definitions.

To view POLICOM’s 2024 Economic Strength Rankings, visit

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