Kinston aims for progress as N.C. small-town populations dip

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — A new UNC-Chapel Hill study shows small city and town populations are dipping, while major cities are on the rise.

While Kinston is toward the top of the list as far as numeric population loss, Mayor B.J. Murphy said the new study won’t slow down its progress one bit

“When Kinston loses Dupont, which has four thousand jobs, and then you have the worst flood in history in 1999 and then have a second one 17 years later, it has a dramatic impact on your population numbers,” Murphy said.

While the city has had its rough patches, it is also being compared to thriving spots in North Carolina, like Charlotte and Raleigh.

“They have a bit more of a tourism economy and so more retirees are helping stabilize some of those trends,” said Rebecca Tippett, the director of Carolina Demography. “But compared to the state, for example, the state between 2010 and 2016, as the same time periods studied here grew by more than 611,000.”

Tippett is hopeful the state is growing but did note the studies reflecting small-town population decreases is based off of the U.S. Census Bureau Report, which she said is more rigid and non-conforming to small cities like Kinston.

“We’re hoping with the urbanization of the state that some more people would like to live in some of these slower areas where we can enjoy a hand-dipped ice cream or really nice fresh made taco downtown,” said Murphy. “Maybe it is enjoying a Minor League Baseball team playing here.”

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