Poverty remains elevated in North Carolina and the nation as we continue to deal with the painfully slow recovery. As I explained back in September, new Census Bureau data on poverty and income confirm that the economic recovery is continuing to bypass middle- and lower-income families. The little economic growth that is taking place is also sidestepping certain demographic groups, including children, communities of color, and women. A snapshot of these disparities, as well as how poverty varies across the state, is captured in a new infographic released today by the NC Budget and Tax CenterRead More

This Friday, approximately 1.7 million North Carolinians—including 51,000 veterans—will see their food assistance cut when a temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Such cuts will be another blow to Tar Heel families trying to make ends meet and get a foothold on the economic ladder. Of those receiving SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) in North Carolina, 85 percent are households with children, older adults, or people with disabilities (see this chart).

SNAP benefits are very modest now, with an average monthly benefit of $121.37 per person in North Carolina. The looming benefit cut will vary depending on family size, ranging from $36 a month for a family of four to $11 a month for a single person. These are deep cuts, equating to about 16 “thrifty” meals per month for a family of three, according to the CBPP report. Read More

North Carolina has long benefited from the immeasurable economic contributions of its immigrant population who play a vital role as neighbors, entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers. A new interactive map and companion statewide factsheet, launched today by the NC Justice Center, document key economic and demographic trends among immigrants living in North Carolina and its 100 counties.

Some noteworthy findings for immigrants living in North Carolina include: Read More

It appears that North Carolina is the only state to stop processing applications for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, formerly known as welfare, due to the federal government shutdown. This news comes just days after the Governor’s Administration was the only one in the nation to turn away low-income mothers and infants from food assistance via the WIC program. Fortunately, state officials quickly reversed course last week and accepted federal contingency funding to keep WIC assistance for hungry families.

In a new editorial, the Charlotte Observer rightly points out that it is “unnecessary” for the Governor’s administration to push the stop button on applications because North Carolina can float the money, continue assistance and services, and then request reimbursement by the federal government thereafter:

“Last month, the U.S. Health and Human Services Family Assistance Office wrote a pre-shutdown letter to states, promising to reimburse money states had to spend to cover federal TANF benefits. That’s probably why so few states have yet to talk about shutting down their TANF programs. Read More

We all pay a higher price as the U.S. House continues to drag its feet on comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, according to the American Immigration Council. This price comes in three forms: dollars, lives, and missed opportunities. The authors co-released this infographic to illustrate the cost of doing nothing.

The authors determine that a significant share of the monetary cost stems from the “enforcement only” approach that has cost billions of dollars since the early 1990s but hasn’t slowed down the number of unauthorized immigrants coming into the United States. The human cost results from people literally dying as they attempt to cross the border as well as from breaking up and shattering families—causing many children to end up in the child welfare system. And, the missed opportunities come in the form of forgone tax dollars and consumer buying power that can support the economy and public investments. Read More