Below are the five key findings from the Budget and Tax Center’s analysis of the new 2013 poverty and income data from the US Bureau of the Census.
- The state is making no progress towards eliminating poverty. North Carolina’s high poverty rate (17.9 percent) remained statistically unchanged in 2013. This means that there has been no progress towards alleviating poverty (as measured by the official poverty measure) since before the recession hit. One in five North Carolinians lived in poverty, equating to less than $24,000 in income per year for a family of four. North Carolina has the 11th highest poverty rate in the nation. High rates of hardship persist because of the state’s ongoing job shortage and the rapid acceleration of low-wage work that fails to provide a pathway to the middle class.
- Children are the state’s poorest age group—and children of color, especially those under age 5, face shamefully high rates of poverty. One in four Tar Heel children lived in poverty in 2013. Poverty maintains the fiercest grip on children of color, with rates approaching, and in some cases, exceeding 50 percent for certain communities of color under age 5. As North Carolina shifts to being a state where a majority of residents are people of color, persistently high poverty rates among children of color will harm the state’s economy in the long run.
- Where you live shapes your access to economic opportunities. A large and growing body of research shows that where one lives can determine if one has access to the educational and employment networks that can pave a pathway to the middle class. Of the 40 counties in North Carolina for which 2013 data is available, the average poverty rate in rural counties is 2.3 percentage points higher than the average for urban counties. With that said, the pockets of deepest hardship exist primarily in inner-city urban areas in the state. So even within a county that is thriving overall, economic hardship can—and often does—vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood.