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Chamber Hosts 13th Annual State of the Community Report

Chamber Hosts 13th Annual State of the Community Report

Carrboro Business Alliance Member News Event Partnership for a Sustainable Community Connect Advocate

Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro is one of the healthiest, wealthiest, and best educated communities in the state, but COVID is having a negative economic impact on local businesses and racial disparities persist.

Chapel Hill, NC:The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro (The Chamber) delivered the 13th annual State of the Community Report, which tracks the well-being of the community across social, economic, and environmental indicators. With the support of Carolina Demography, the 2020 State of the Community Report found that Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro is one of the healthiest, wealthiest, and best educated communities in the state and well-positioned to bounce-back from the pandemic and recession; but retail, restaurants, and hospitality are struggling, and alarming racial disparities persist.  

“The annual State of the Community Report is like a mirror that allows us to see ourselves as we really are,” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber. “The data tell us that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but we have important work to do to help COVID-impacted industries bounce-back and to address the substantial racial inequities."  

Indicators of Community Resilience  

  • (Health) Orange County is the #1 healthiest county in the state for length of life and best access to clinical care; and is in the top five for quality of life, healthy behaviors, and other social and economic factors.  
  • (Income) Orange County is the #1 wealthiest county in the state with $40,650 per capita income and $92,694 Average Adjusted Gross Income (Chatham County #2, Wake County #3), and income growth is outpacing inflation.  
  • (Education) Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is the #1 district in the state for students' average SAT score (1,287) and the district outpaces the region with 51 percent of all students meeting all four ACT benchmarks and 83 percent of all students earning a UNC System-eligible ACT composite score (17+). 
  • (Workforce) With 75 percent of residents aged 25 or older having a bachelor’s degree or higher, Chapel Hill outpaces other North Carolina municipalities and is one of the best educated cities in America. 

Indicators of Inequity  

While there are many reasons to feel optimistic in the level of community resilience and ability to bounce-back from the recession and pandemic, there are concerning racial disparities highlighted in the report. 

  • (COVID Cases) In Orange County, Hispanic residents make up 8 percent of the population and 33 percent of the lab-confirmed cases. 
  • (COVID-Related Deaths) While Black residents make up just 12 percent of the Orange County population and 15 percent of the COVID-19 cases, they make up a disproportionate 42 percent of deaths.  
  • (Achievement Gap) Only 57 percent of Black students and 42 percent of Hispanic students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are reading on grade level by end of 3rd Grade compared to 88 percent of White students. In Orange County Schools, only 37 percent of Black students and 26 percent of Hispanic students are reading on grade level after grade three compared to 70 percent of White students.  
  • (Broadband Access) In Orange County, 22 percent of Black households and 15 percent of Hispanic households lack computer access or internet compared to 8 percent of White households.  
  • (Poverty) In Orange County, 24 percent of Black children (under 18) live in poverty versus 3 percent of White children. In Chatham County, 30 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty compared with 14 percent of White children. 
  • (Residential Segregation) Orange County scored 29 and Chatham 32 on the Black/White residential segregation index, which is a 0-100 indicator measuring complete integration to complete segregation. 

Anna Richards, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, discussed these findings during the program and encouraged collective action. 

“The data confirm that we live in one of the state’s healthiest, wealthiest, and most educated communities. Yet, in every category, black and brown residents lag,” said Anna Richards, President, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP. “To do better, we can take actions so all have the opportunity to succeed.” 

Other Findings 

  • (COVID Economic Impacts) Orange County retail sales were down 20% in May and 4% from the beginning of the year, hotel occupancy is down, and The Chamber 50 Business Index showed business credit card transactions down 75% in April. 
  • (Employment Center) Chapel Hill-Carrboro is becoming more of an employment center and less of a bedroom community as more people drive in for work (41,944) and fewer drive out (19,068).   
  • (Young Workers) The number of young workers (under 30) driving into Orange County for work is at an all-time high (10,351) and there are now more young workers driving into Orange County than driving out.  
  • (Women-owned Businesses) Female business ownership rate in Orange County (22 percent) is higher than the state average (20 percent) and 33 percent of all Carrboro firms are women-owned.  
  • (Growth) Population growth has slowed in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, and Orange County, tracking only 1 percent per year county-wide. In the 2010s, Orange County experienced its second slowest decade of growth since the 1930s. Similarly, in the 2010s, Carrboro, Hillsborough, and Chapel Hill each recorded the slowest percent rate of growth and lowest population growth since the 1970s. 

About the Event 

The Chamber’s 13th annual State of the Community Report, presented by Piedmont Health, PNC, and Triangle Community Foundation, was broadcast live from the Graduate Hotel through video conference technology with production support from Critical Focus Creative. Nearly 300 participants engaged in the two-hour data presentation and discussion. Featured speakers included Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber; Dr. Rebecca Tippett, Ph.D., Founding Director of Carolina Demography, Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Anna Richards, President, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP. Learn more about the event and access the 2020 State of the Community Report Presentation and Comprehensive Data Book at   

About The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro: The Chamber is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network is growing with more than 700 member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives. Members count on The Chamber to help them navigate through this pandemic and emerge successful on the other side by connecting them with key people, information, and resources; advocating for local business interests; promoting their business, our community, and our overall quality of life; and by driving progress and building a better community. 
Contact: Katie Loovis, Vice President of External Affairs, 919-696-0781 (cell), 



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