Does Salisbury, N.C. Qualify as a Dead or Dying City? What are the Traditional Markers for Dead and Dying Cities?

Posted on November 29, 2016

Steve Mensing, Editor

♦ Several years ago a city manager asked me if I thought Salisbury was a dying city.  I told him yes and stated why.  Has my experience of Salisbury changed?  Somewhat–today I’d have no challenge saying the sheet was pulled over Salisbury’s face somewhere around 2013-2014.  The city has been in a free fall for several years due to some really poor decisions city leaders made and continue to make.

What are the traditional markers for dead or dying cities?

High Poverty Salisbury’s poverty is extremely high. Salisbury has an overly large percentage of persons living below poverty (27.2%). US Census Bureau stats for Salisbury (current 2015 estimates) verify that over one fourth of the City’s population is living in poverty:,37159

High Crime Statistics/lack of public safety Salisbury’s abysmal crime statistics in the FBI Crime Statistics from 2015 are the latest available. The 2016 statistics will not be available until late in 2017. Latest FBI UCR Crime Statistics for Salisbury, N.C. reports Violent Crimes/Robberies/Aggravated Assaults/Arsons Up.

Keep in mind that a lack of public safety ices economic development and gets people to move elsewhere. Lack of public safety is a city killer.

Substandard public schools Public schools (K-12), inside of Salisbury’s city limits, had substandard grades on the N.C. Department of Education’s 2015-2016 Report Card. The All Important Letter Grades for Schools in the City of Salisbury, N.C.:

Lack of Decent Paying Jobs Many persons living in Salisbury have to commute for decent paying jobs in other cities like Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Concord, and Mooresville. Folks frequently move to where they work if they endure long commute times.

High percentage of vacant houses and buildings About 2,000 vacant and abandoned houses exist in Salisbury in a town of 14,000 homes. There are quite a few vacant and abandoned buildings in Salisbury as well.

Video: Salisbury City Councilman David Post Reveals There Are Almost 2,000 Vacant Houses in Salisbury, N.C.:

Non traditional markers for dead and dying cities:

Middle class and upper class moving away from Salisbury. Young people are leaving town for better jobs.

Blight in many areas of the city

Low Spendable income,37159

Large population of homeless persons. Many not living in the states largest homeless shelter

A large and growing heroin, meth, crack, synthetic opioids, and alcohol epidemic.

Diminished city services. Understaffed and underpaid police leaving Salisbury.

In’s Latest City/Town Livability Ratings in North Carolina Salisbury, N.C. has Plummeted to 490th Place:

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