TOPSAIL ISLAND, N.C. -- The local economy on this sun-drenched, 26-mile slice of sand in the southeastern comer of the state is booming as newcomers move in to retire or carry on their careers in a relaxed style.

The surging growth is part of a business upturn in the Wilmington, N.C., region and North Carolina in general. The state unemployment rate has dropped to 3.7%, the lowest in years and well below the national average of 6.1%.

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