We have our work cut out for us in 2016. Over the last few days we released a series of charts that capture the key economic stories of the past year. To see the full series of charts, visit the Justice Center’s Facebook page. Given the short and long-term economic challenges we face, public policy choices will determine whether we build an economy that works for everyone.
Your Resolve to Act in 2016 can bring prosperity to more North Carolina homes. By staying up to date on economic trends, sharing information with your networks and communicating directly with your elected officials, you make sure that the choices are clear in the policy debates that this year will hold.
Resolve to act in 2016 because our economy isn’t creating enough jobs. If we counted all of the people who have left the labor market over the last several years because there are not enough jobs to go around, unemployment in North Carolina is likely still north of 10%. Even those who have been able to find work represent a smaller share of North Carolinians with a job than before the recession started. Unfortunately, economic reality has not yet produced a change of course in Raleigh. Many elected leaders continue to believe that tax cuts will solve our economic ills, in spite of the fact that state’s like California and Massachusetts that focus more on investing than cutting have seen stronger recoveries than North Carolina or our neighbors to the south.
Resolve to act in 2016 because North Carolina has a wage problem. The past decade has seen North Carolina workers take home less of the value they create. While wage stagnation is a national problem, it is particularly acute in North Carolina, resulting in North Carolina wages losing ground compared to the nation. Moreover, racial wages gaps have actually expanded during the recovery. The unfortunate reality is that far too many North Carolinians, particularly those at or near the minimum wage, are not earning enough to make ends meet.
Resolve to act in 2016 because too many North Carolinians face economic hardship every day. Poverty, which spiked as the Great Recession took hold, has not come back down to pre-recession levels. Because much of the economic growth over the last few years has been concentrated in a few parts of the state, many communities are still struggling to contend with more than 1 in 5 people living in poverty.
Resolve to act in 2016 because we need to do more to help small businesses. Since the start of the recovery in 2009, larger companies have collectively grown much faster than smaller businesses. At the same time, state leaders passed laws that will make life more difficult for immigrants, who are increasingly important to the economic vitality of main street North Carolina.
Resolve to act in 2016 because we are underfunding our economic future. State spending is at its lowest level in 40 years, shortchanging investment in education, infrastructure, and innovation. Unless we change course, immediate needs will go unaddressed and North Carolina’s long-term economic foundation will crumble.
So please stay active in the year to come as we continue to advocate for an economy that works for everybody in North Carolina. Our resolution at the Budget & Tax Center is to make sure you have the sound research and analysis and tools to engage that will help our state prosper.