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Addressing Rising Poverty Rates in North Carolina

Since the latest data from the US Census Bureau was released, the North Carolina Budget and Tax center has  documented the growing number of North Carolinians facing economic hardship, the negative impacts of child poverty, the disproportionate impact of poverty in communities of color, and the challenges with the federal poverty line measure  that likely lead to an undercounting of the number of North Carolinians facing economic hardship.

Driving these trends is the combination of a weak economic recovery and longer-term changes in North Carolina’s labor market over the 2000s and earlier including the growth in the share of working families earning low-incomes To address rising poverty rates, state policymakers must focus on policies for both of these drivers.  Here are some ideas about what those strategies should be:

Immediately boost the effective incomes of families hardest hit by the economic downturn

Focus on the creation of good, quality jobs that feed the broader economy

  • Maintain requirements for corporate subsidies to meet wage and benefit standards
  • Subsidize wages for workers who are employed
  • Implement a state-level work sharing program

Invest in long-term growth through a balanced approach to state fiscal challenges

  • Modernize the state’s revenue system to ensure adequate investment in public structures
  • Fund community college innovations that retrain and train workers
  • Increase investment in affordable housing development through the NC Housing Trust Fund

State policymakers have the ability to keep rising poverty in check through their policy choices.  In the past, addressing the growth in poverty has provided an additional boost to the broader economy and expanded prosperity for all.   Investing in North Carolina’s struggling families and in job creation is more important than ever.

3 Comments


  1. david esmay

    October 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    NC’s wages have always been about 50% of the national average for blue collar workers, it doesn’t take much of a push to make a family struggle here.

  2. Nonanonymour

    October 8, 2011 at 10:27 am

    How about pro jobs policies and people working for a living, instead of astro turf economy of unemployment for all.

    How long does your economy run before you run out of public dollars. I guess we’re going to find out. The way out of poverty is to promote the general welfare, instead of the welfare of a elite.

  3. Eunice

    October 10, 2011 at 8:08 am

    It’s very easy to say “focus on good quality jobs” but no one knows what that means, nor how to do it.

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