Mediocre “family friendly” rating should point New Bern in a better direction

New Bern received a mediocre score for family friendliness in North Carolina from WalletHub, a website that produces data-driven articles ranking various subjects in various categories.

In ranking North Carolina cities for “2019’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina,” New Bern ranked 56th out of 87 cities. The top-ranked city was Cary, while coming in at 87th was Laurinburg.

In Eastern North Carolina, Havelock — you read that right — was the highest rated city in the survey, coming in at 35th. Other Eastern NC cities were Wilmington (44th), Greenville (53rd), Jacksonville (59th), Wilson (70th), Elizabeth City (75th), Tarboro (77th), Goldsboro (81st), and Kinston (84th).

Taking just Eastern North Carolina cities into account, then, New Bern ranked fourth, just behind Greenville and ahead of Jacksonville.

The rankings took into consideration 10 metrics, of which New Bern did better than average in just three: violent-crime rate per capita, unemployment rate, and playgrounds per capita.

New Bern ranked low in several categories, including percentage of families with children under age 17, median family income, and high school graduation rate. It rated near the bottom — 72nd — in housing affordability.

New Bern appears at the top of many lists, from Top Charming Small Towns to Top Small Retirement Towns, but these are typically niche categories. Raising a family is about as fundamental to a city’s purpose as you can get, and New Bern’s ranking, indeed rankings of all Eastern North Carolina cities, should raise some red flags and help policymakers in making decisions.

The data used in these rankings is entirely publicly available, and is the same information that companies look at when determining expansion and relocations.

True, New Bern is constantly looking for ways to up its game. But take one example, the planned Martin-Marietta Park. New Bern already ranks high for playgrounds per capita (24th in the state). Martin-Marietta Park won’t move the bar one iota in rankings such as these, even if it’s a park that is physically larger than most of Craven County’s smaller cities.

The focus should be where New Bern and Craven County are average or weak — median family income, quality of school system, high school graduation rate, poverty rate, and perhaps foremost, housing affordability.

Here are specific rankings for New Bern:

Raising a Family in New Bern (1=Best; 43=Avg.; 87=Worst)

  • 64th – % of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17
  • 57th – Median Family Income (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 49th – Quality of School System
  • 52nd – High School Graduation Rate
  • 34th – Violent-Crime Rate per Capita
  • 72nd – Housing Affordability
  • 48th – % of Families Living in Poverty
  • 31st – Unemployment Rate
  • 45th – Divorce Rate
  • 24th – Playgrounds per Capita

Full report here:

Source: WalletHub

 

June 20th, 2019 by
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