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Carteret County Economy In NC – Information on Business, Jobs, Tourism And Hospitality

In this article we are going to discuss and throw out data as it relates to the Carteret County economy in NC with a focus on jobs, business, tourism and hospitality, and other economic factors that drives this Eastern NC community. If you have any questions, or want to discuss information in this article, please use the comment section below after sharing on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Under the section “General Information” is information we believe is going to dramatically change the economic landscape for this county. The current year is 2019, but things are going to look much different looking out 5-10 years from now for a very specific reason.

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General Information

The local economy is largely driven by tourism and hospitality during the Spring, Summer, and early Fall months when the population almost doubles from it’s off-season population. If you are starting a small business locally that caters to tourism and hospitality, then you can expect to do quite well. In the winter months which consist of about October to late March, the area suffers economically. It is not uncommon to see many small businesses close their doors during this time of the year, and for workers (and even some business owners) to find other means of employment.

We have found that local businesses that harness the power of the Internet, be it using the global search engines and social media to engage consumers, do far better in the winter months than business owners who are not.

Aside from tourism and hospitality, commercial fishing is the second largest economic force in the county.

Not counting commercial fishing and tourism and hospitality, other large employers in the area include 1) Cherry Point – a United States Marine Corps base where high paying skilled trades are in demand. 2) Carteret Health Care – the local hospital and medical center employing allied health jobs. 3) Carteret Community College and public school system, 4) Boat and yacht building. 5) Self employed skilled trades.

In the far western part of the county such as in Cape Carteret, Emerald Isle, Stella, and Peletier, it is not uncommon to see people seeking employment at Camp Lejeune which is a very large and strategic United States Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, NC (Onslow County).

Outside of these areas, low paying retail jobs dominate the market especially in winter months.

Carteret NC And Future Economy Conversations

What Is About To Change?

Land, train, and air travel to Carteret County NC is difficult from a economic standpoint. There is no major interstate system that feeds the area, there is limited commuter train service, and no commercial flights that service the area.

Note: Amtrak service is available where Amtrak buses you from Morehead City to Wilson where you will actually board a train.

However, a four lane modern interstate is currently being built that will make the local area significantly more appealing to business growth and development, and will soon spark things like modern train service and commercial aviation to begin services here. The projections for this area is to start seeing an explosion in advanced skilled trades, business development, high tech jobs, construction trades, and allied health jobs within the next 5-10 years (Again, this is being written in 2019).

There does exist a highly motivated economic development council in the area talking to investors and business leaders daily about the upcoming changes. You can reach them by calling (252) 222-6120, or visiting them at 3615 Arendell St, Morehead City, NC 28557.

As for home ownership in Carteret County, as with most coastal regions, home prices are considered well above the national median price, and finding rentals can be difficult during the busy tourism season. Low income housing is considered scarce although there are efforts taking place to change that.

Census Information As of 2018

Population: 69,524
Median Rent: $864
Median Mortgage: $1,368
90.8% are high school graduates.
Median Household Income: $51,584
Total Employers: 1,931
Population Per Square Mile: 131.3

The census information above will likely look much different in 5-10 years.

City and Town Information

Morehead City is the largest municipality in the county and likely contains the largest representation of employed persons in the region. Beaufort is the county seat and likely second in the areas of job opportunities and business. After that, Newport NC, Atlantic Beach, and Emerald Isle are mid-sized towns containing mostly retail and unskilled trade jobs.

In areas down east (Harkers Island, North River, Merrimon, Bettie, Otway, Cedar Island, and Atlantic), commercial fishing and farming makes up the bulk of job opportunities.

Do you have any questions about the Carteret County economy as it relates to jobs, business, hospitality, skilled or professional trades? Or, about the economic projections that will soon take place in this Eastern NC county?

If so, use the comment form below and let’s talk.


In 2020, all municipalities in Carteret County took an incredible hit to the tourism industry and economy because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic which saw beaches, restaurants, bars, and other public gathering places closed. The federal government, state, and local officials found unique ways to help local businesses stay afloat, but things were very difficult and certainly not to full revenue gained from normal operations.

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Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

2 thoughts on “Carteret County Economy In NC – Information on Business, Jobs, Tourism And Hospitality

  • April 16, 2022 at 11:43 am

    Business leaders and municipal governments in this NC county are already talking about hospitality workers being in short supply for the 2022 season.

    Essentially, there aren’t enough workers to meet demand in places with high traffic like Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort, and Emerald Isle.

    What do you think is causing this?

  • August 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    This county could definitely see a good shot of new jobs over what we have now. Hopefully, they won’t just be low paying high burn out retail jobs and we will see a good mixture of skilled trade and professional jobs as well. I do see a significant number of national brands moving in to the county over the next ten years but I am wondering if now is a good time to start a new business locally?

    I would love to see what the economist are saying about this area. I would love to know what the inside figures are and what the projections say.


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