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North Carolina’s poorest citizens miss out on economic comeback
Poverty levels remain above pre-recession mark
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018 10:25 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

North Carolina's poverty rate in 2017 was 14.7 percent, which marked the 10th straight year it was higher than the pre-recession mark.

North Carolinians are missing out on the state’s economic recovery.

Last year, 1.47 million residents lived in poverty, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau as they face barriers to good-paying jobs, childcare, public transportation to get to work, adequate education and job training resources.

Despite low unemployment rates and improving gross domestic product, 2017 was the 10th straight year poverty levels were above the state’s pre-recession mark. As of last year, 14.7 percent of North Carolinians lived in poverty, which meant living on less than $25,100 a year for a family of four. More than 1 in 5 North Carolina children are growing up in families that are paid wages too low to afford basic necessities.

“Regardless of signs of economic growth, far too many North Carolina families still struggle to afford the basics,” said Brian Kennedy II, a policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center. “The fact that we’ve failed to drop below pre-recession levels after a decade of recovery is an indication of growing inequality and poor policy choices.”

Census data show that North Carolina’s families are still dealing with high rates of poverty, stagnant incomes, and widespread income inequality:

• North Carolina’s poverty rate, 14.7 percent, is 1.3 percentage points higher than the nation’s, and is slightly higher than the rate in 2007 before the Great Recession.  The state’s poverty rate is 14th-highest in the country.

• The median income of $52,752 rose by $2,168 from 2016, but the typical North Carolina household still makes $189 less today than in 2007.

• 6.5 percent of residents  live in extreme poverty, which is less than half of the poverty line or about $12,500 a year for a family of four.
Poverty hits some groups harder than others, such as:  

• People of color suffer from lack of access to quality education, segregated housing, and racial discrimination, which exacerbates economic struggle. Twenty-two percent of black North Carolinians live below the official poverty line of $25,100 for a family of four, compared with 10.6 percent of whites.

Also, 27.1 percent of Latinx North Carolinians, 25.4 of American Indians, and 12.2 percent of Asian Americans live in poverty.

• Children have higher poverty rates than adults. In 2017, 21.2 percent of children were poor compared to 9.1 percent of adults aged 65 and older.

• Women have higher poverty rates than men, 16 percent compared to 13.3 percent.

“Addressing poverty through proven policies that connect people to good jobs and reduce the harmful effects of hardship can boost our economy and improve the well-being of our state,” Kennedy said.

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