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North Carolina is one of five states receiving a $1.6 million grant as part of the Accelerating Opportunity program. The program, which is designed to increase the number of adults who earn a GED and a credential, focuses on developing pathways in high-growth fields such as business technologies, health sciences, and transport systems. Nine colleges in North Carolina participate in the program and the state will extend the Basic Skills Plus program – a program that supports adults in the transition between the attainment of basic skills and occupational credentials –  to all 58 community colleges by 2014.

The State of Working North Carolina

The State of Working North Carolina was released this week, and the numbers reemphasize that North Carolina’s working families have  experienced declines in financial stability and economic opportunity over the last decade.  One take away from this grim story is that North Carolina needs not only jobs, but good jobs. As a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research highlights, however, good jobs are in short supply.

Good jobs pay a living wage. Read More

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It’s been a busy week in North Carolina, so you may have missed some exciting news out of the west. On Tuesday, Buncombe County became the second county in the state to pass a living wage resolution. What is a living wage? The calculations differ, but basically it comes down to making enough to meet basic needs without public or private assistance. In Buncombe County, the living wage for full- and part-time county employees will now be set at a minimum of $11.35 per hour or $9.85 with employer-provided health insurance. Click here to read more about the Buncombe County Living Wage Campaign spearheaded by Just Economics.

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Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment – a victory that finally gave women full voting rights. Almost a century later, it’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s voice in politics and policy and to take a good look at the work that remains to be done on the path to equality.

As we reported on Friday, the preliminary findings of the 2012 Status of Women in North Carolina report released last week by the North Carolina Council for Women show that despite women’s higher levels of education and the significant increase in labor force participation over the past decades, wage and income inequality persists.

  • The wage gap continues: Women’s wages continue to be lower than men’s wages in the state, adding up to approximately $7,000 per year or $135 per week less than the median annual earnings of comparable men.
  • The wage gap is even greater compared by educational level: For instance, women with at least a college degree earn more than $20,000 less per year than comparable men. This amounts to a wage gap of 29 percent.
  • More women continue to live in poverty. 17 percent of women compared to 13 percent of men in North Carolina lived in families with incomes at or below the federal poverty threshold. 34 percent of Hispanic women, 25 percent of African American women, and 25 percent of American Indian women in North Carolina lived at or below the poverty line.

Our labor force looks much different than it did 50 years ago. Read More

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Everyone gets sick, faces family emergencies, or needs to take time from work at some point. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released new data confirming that those with the least amount of economic security and those with the greatest need for leave, are the least likely to be able to access paid leave when these events happen.

This is the first time that the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) has included questions on leave-taking among American workers, and the findings on disparities in access to and use of leave are stark. By far, workers with lower wages, Hispanic workers, and workers with the most contact with the public are less likely to have access to leave and to lose pay when they do take time off. Here are some of the national numbers:

–          42 percent of American private sectors have no paid time off. None.

–          Only 1 in 4 workers in the leisure and hospitality industry have access.

–          3 out of 4 part-time workers have no access to paid leave.

–          Hispanic workers have less access to paid leave, but more family caregiving responsibilities.

As we have written before, paid leave is about economic security and job stability. Here in North Carolina, 7 out of 10 families have all parents in the workforce and almost 1.2 million North Carolinians are caregivers for older or sick adults. The Center for American Progress released new fact sheets yesterday detailing the importance and feasibility of such workplace policies as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and workplace flexibility. And you can read more about the North Carolina context here.