NC Budget and Tax Center

NC Budget and Tax Center

An insightful interactive map created by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the extraordinary growth in imprisonment rates nationwide. For North Carolina, the number of individuals under state or federal correctional authority nearly tripled from 1978 to 2013, increasing to 356 from 214 individuals per 100,000 residents over this time period. This growth in the state’s imprisonment rate is accompanied by increased state corrections spending – rising from $538 million in 1978 up to $1.7 billion in 2013 when adjusted for inflation.

Growth in the state’s imprisonment population has been costly for North Carolina and nationally. More and more state dollars for state corrections spending has contributed to fewer dollars available for public schools and other public investments that serve as the foundation of economic growth. In 2011, state lawmakers passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which aims to manage the state’s prison population growth by creating better outcomes for offenders and, in turn, reduce recidivism. However, the state’s ongoing revenue crisis resulting from costly tax cuts and continued budget cuts limit opportunities for proven, cost-effective initiatives, such as drug treatment courts.

What is clear is that state corrections operations in North Carolina consume a significant amount of resources, and individuals, at the expense of other important public investments.

NC Budget and Tax Center

PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity have put together a new data platform, the National Equity Atlas, which provides community leaders with information to measure, monitor and make the case for inclusive growth across the country. The creators note that before the creation of this Atlas it was difficult to secure data on the state of equity in regions and states. That is a problem.

Equity is a key component of sustainable growth. As the country becomes increasingly multi-racial in the midst of rising inequality and declining public investment in communities, barriers for low-income communities and communities of color in accessing economic opportunity hold back the broader economy.

The National Equity Atlas provides insights into the state of equity in North Carolina as well as major metropolitan areas in the state including Asheville, Greensboro-High Point, Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, Raleigh-Cary and Winston-Salem.

Here is a sample of the data points for North Carolina:

  • By 2040, 48.2 percent of North Carolina’s population will be people of color.
  • Over the 2000s, communities of color were driving population growth particularly the Latino and Asian communities.
  • By 2020, 42.3 percent of jobs in North Carolina will require at least a Associate’s degree or higher. Barriers to post-secondary education such as cost, transportation or scheduling around work have resulted in lower educational attainment levels for African-Americans, Native Americans and Latinos.
  • In 2012, North Carolina’s economy would have been $63 billion larger if there were no racial differences in income levels.

Check out the tool here.

NC Budget and Tax Center

In December 2007, just as the Great Recession started, 62 percent of North Carolina’s working-age population was employed. As of October 2014, employment had fallen to 56.5 percent as measured by the employment to population ratio.

Despite the important milestone Employment Levels in USof replacing all the jobs lost during the Great Recession, North Carolina still has not reached pre-recession employment levels.

North Carolina is not alone. No state has reached its 2007 employment levels as measured by the employment to population ratio. Four states still have employment levels more than 10 percent below their pre-recession levels while just two states—Texas and Minnesota—have the smallest difference in employment with ratios less than 2.5 percent below December 2007 levels.

NC Budget and Tax Center

The stories of children held back from pursuing educational opportunities, of families separated and weakened by deportations or their threat, of communities uncertain how to integrate and engage immigrants, provide the most compelling support for President Obama’s announcement of a new proposal to grant temporary, limited immigration status to certain immigrant families.

To complement these stories, however, data from the Migration Policy Institute details the potential numbers of individuals who this proposal could reach nationwide and in North Carolina. Approximately 117,000 parents in North Carolina would be eligible for the new deferred action program and another 38,000 young people would be eligible immediately for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In total, this policy has the potential to reach a little more than 40 percent of the state’s total population of immigrants who are undocumented. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Coverage of the latest labor market release on Friday has focused on the fact that the state has replaced all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, a milestone achieved after nearly seven years since that recession started.  There is still much progress to be made to achieve a full recovery in the labor market.

BTC - Missing Workers October 2014The latest calculation of the number of missing workers in North Carolina, those who would be looking for work if employment opportunities were stronger, makes clear the challenges that persist.  There are nearly 290,000 workers missing from North Carolina’s labor market.  If these workers were included in the unemployment rate, that rate would be 12.5 percent, nearly twice the official unemployment rate.