NC Budget and Tax Center

New data: Despite small gains, far too many people in poverty still left behind

New data today released from the US Census Bureau shows that 1.5 million North Carolinians lived in poverty in 2016. At 15.4 percent, the rate of poverty in N.C. has dropped by 1 percentage point from the previous year, yet still remains higher than pre-recession levels.

Income has followed similar trends to the poverty rate. The state’s medium income last year was $50,584, an increase from 2015, but still $1,130 less than the median income in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. This means that although our economy is recovering from the Great Recession, many NC families have yet to share in the state’s economic gains. Additionally, the data points to divides in our state, revealing that not everyone is impacted by poverty in equal ways. Serious barriers such as lack of access to quality education, housing segregation, and job and wage discrimination means some groups struggle economically more than others. Last year, 23.5 percent of African Americans, 27.3 percent of Latinx families, 25.5 percent of Native Americans, and 11.9 percent of Asian Americans experienced poverty compared to 10.8 percent of whites. Additionally, 21.7 percent of children experienced poverty and women experienced poverty at a rate 2.6 percentage points higher than men.

As grim as this data is, it tells an important story. Although we have seen positive gains in measures such as the unemployment rate, far too many North Carolinians are still being left behind in our state’s economic recovery. If we want to build an economy that works for everyone, lawmakers will have to ensure that we make adequate public investments in things such as income supports and higher education.

One Comment


  1. Michael Eisenberg

    September 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    National median income at $59039 and NC $50584 is totally unacceptable. No wonder so many of North Carolinians are living in poverty.

Check Also

One in six North Carolinians struggle with hunger; GOP tax plan threatens to make it worse

Over the last few years, North Carolina has ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

449,235 - Total undergrad enrollment in North Carolina 19,767 - Total for-profit undergrad enrollmen [...]

There’s a new rumor afoot about judicial reform that lawmakers may try to pass a judicial appointmen [...]

The head of North Carolina’s controversial charter takeover program says there’s no guarantee he’ll [...]

UNC Board of Governors Chairman Louis Bissette began the new year by penning a column urging his own [...]

Grand constitutional questions in this country aren’t settled until the Supreme Court has its say, e [...]

The post Gerrymander struck down appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

This past week has been a good one for the state of Alabama. Not only did the Crimson Tide football [...]

Conservative North Carolina lawmakers have pushed through a lot of radical laws and legislative prop [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more