As the Senate passed yet another round of tax cuts (which would largely go to wealthy people and companies), proponents tried to claim that past tax slashing has fixed our economic wagon. Not so fast. Hard numbers and lived experience tell us that several years of tax cuts have not addressed North Carolina’s most pressing economic problems.
A job does not guarantee escape from poverty or that people can afford the basic necessities.
- One in three North Carolina workers are paid poverty wages. Workers in North Carolina are more likely to be paid poverty wages than in every other state except Arkansas. The story is similar in small cities and towns, where almost 1/3rd of workers in North Carolina’s smaller cities (10,000-50,000 in population) earn poverty wages.
- One fifth of North Carolina families don’t earn enough to pay for the basics: One in five families in North Carolina don’t earn enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, and medicine. In Wake County for example, minimum wage workers barley take home 1/3rd of what it take to cover the basic necessities of life.
- Vital professions don’t pay living wages: In North Carolina, more than half of the professionals who teach (and wrangle) young children can’t afford the basic costs of living in their community.
- Hunger is pervasive in North Carolina: North Carolina ranks as the 8th hungriest place in the country. People living in almost 630,000 North Carolina households are not getting enough to eat.
Economic mobility is more myth than reality.
- Minimum wage work has exploded: Compared to before the Great Recession, far more North Carolinians are earning at or below the federal minimum wage. More than 120,000 North Carolinians were paid at or below the minimum wage in 2015.
- Economic mobility in many communities is tragically low: Cities in the south have some of the lowest rates of economic mobility in the country, and North Carolina is no exception. In Charlotte, a child born into a household in the bottom 20 percent of income has less than a 5% chance of getting into the top 20.
- Gender and race are still enormous barriers: Women, particularly women of color, are still getting short-changed. Women in North Carolina are paid 86 cents for every dollar earned by men, black women take home 78 cents, and Latina women make less than half of what men do.
- One quarter of North Carolinians live in economically distressed communities. With only ten states faring worse, a huge share of North Carolinians live in economically distressed zip codes
There still are not enough jobs for everyone that wants to work.
- Actual unemployment is much higher than official figures reflect. There are likely including these “missing workers” would push the official unemployment rate to almost 9%.
- Many communities are falling farther behind the nation. North Carolina’s employment growth has been concentrated in a few urban areas, leaving much of the state behind. More than half of the counties in North Carolina have fewer jobs than before the Great Recession, and almost half of the counties have not kept up with the national rate of growth since 2013