A North Carolina Budget and Tax Center (BTC) brief released last week showed that families in North Carolina are severely feeling the effects of the flagging economy. African American and Latino families in the state, however, have been particularly hard hit.
While the poverty rate for the state increased significantly to 17.5 percent in 2010, the poverty rate for African American North Carolinians was more than ten percentage points higher than the state figure and the rate for Hispanic or Latino North Carolinians stood at 33.9 percent. That translates to 1 in 4 African Americans and 1 in 3 Latinos in the state who are living under the federal poverty level.
Racial disparities in income and unemployment have been exacerbated by the Great Recession. Yet even at the beginning of the Recession, in 2007, African American and Hispanic state residents’ poverty rates were more than twice as high as white residents’ poverty rates.
The brief also noted that median incomes for households of color were considerably lower than the median household income for the state. African-Americans’ median income in 2010 was $30,952 and Latinos’ median household income was $30,558 compared to $43,326 for the state.
Unequal unemployment, a lack of good jobs, and a decrease of median wages keep these trends going in the wrong direction. In addition to a better informed and thoughtful dialog, what we need is job creation targeted to communities facing prolonged economic distress and to ensure that opportunities are first and foremost available to those who have had less access to good, well-paying jobs. Ultimately, though, what will work for African-American and Latino families in the state will make the economy stronger for all North Carolinians.