Some would like to suggest that Governor McCrory’s election-year campaign slogan, “The Carolina Comeback,” is a fact-based explanation of the current conditions on the ground in North Carolina.
With the national economy growing, it makes sense that North Carolina leaders would try to take some of the credit for themselves, but there isn’t any credible evidence that policy decisions made in Raleigh have buoyed North Carolina’s economic prospects.
North Carolina’s economy is certainly better than during the Great Recession, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for success. The Carolina Comeback narrative might be excused as simple political rhetoric, if it didn’t distract from the real barriers that still undermine far too many North Carolinians’ livelihoods today, and upend their quest for a better future.
Here are just 10 facts that shouldn’t be ignored:
- North Carolina has 411,100 fewer jobs than pre-Recession employment levels.
- Since the Recession began, North Carolina’s job growth has been 4.1 percent, compared to the nation’s 4.6 percent change.
- There has been a growth in the number of North Carolinians working part-time jobs who would prefer to work fulltime but take what they can find.
- North Carolina’s median household income is $3,200 less than it was in 2007 and has grown at one of the slowest rates in the country in recent years.
- Tax changes since 2013 mean that North Carolina will bring in at least $1.4 billion less than would have been available under the old tax code. $1.4 billion would have allowed the state to do all of the following combined:
- Eliminate the NC Pre-K Waiting List;
- Restore funding for public education to pre-recession levels on a per-student basis;
- Fund an additional 960 nursing positions to achieve the ratio of one nurse to every 750 students, as recommended by the National Association of School Nurses;
- Restore literacy coaches in middle schools;
- Support the implementation of nutrition standards in the Child Nutrition Program, per the suggestion of the NC Department of Public Instruction;
- and Invest $500 million in affordable housing programs, job training programs for adults facing barriers to work, and other ECE initiatives.
- North Carolina’s State Economist notes that while revenue has come in over projections, sales tax collections are below what was anticipated and the economy appears unlikely to accelerate.
- The tax changes since 2013 have delivered a nearly $15,000 tax cut annually for millionaires in NC, while average taxpayers with incomes averaging $11,000 are paying even more.
- Job growth has not occurred in middle-wage industries.
- Poverty remains 15 percent above 2007 levels.
- There are 120,000 North Carolinians earning at or below the minimum wage, two and a half times more than several years ago.