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NC Budget and Tax Center

Poverty continues to impact 1 in 5 North Carolinians, according to 2012 Census Bureau Data released last week. The extent of poverty would be far greater without the safety net and work supports, however. This post is part of a blog series that will explain how the new poverty data demonstrates the important role public programs play and the need for continued support.

Widespread poverty and stagnant living standards have become the status quo in North Carolina, according to the Budget and Tax Center’s analysis of Census data released last week. 2012 marked yet another year of the official economic recovery whereby the gains of economic growth passed over low- and moderate-income North Carolinians. High rates of hardship are persisting 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.

There is some good news in the Census data, however. The poverty rate would have been much worse if public policies weren’t in place to provide a necessary safety net. Read More

Falling Behind in NC, Uncategorized

North Carolina has dropped one place since last year to rank 35th in the nation according to an annual KIDS COUNT data report about the overall well-being of children in the United States. This data report determines and ranks states on the basis of performance in sixteen level indicators across four domains; economic well-being, family and community, health, and education.

North Carolina’s drop to the 35th spot largely results from the state’s lackluster performance in improving its economic well-being. Currently, North Carolina is ranked 38th in the nation for economic well-being, three spots below last year’s ranking. This data report breaks down economic well-being into four categories, each of which North Carolina failed to show any progress. The KIDS COUNT State Profile for North Carolina reports that twenty-six percent of children are impoverished and thirty-four percent of parents lack secure employment in this state alone. Accordingly, in North Carolina, the amount of children living in households with high housing burden costs has seen a four percent increase since 2005, and ten percent of teens are currently not working or in school.

In comparison to last year’s report, Read More

Uncategorized

So you know the right-wing-talk radio-NC General Assembly leadership talking point  by now: “Unemployed North Carolinians don’t need unemployment insurance or other safety net programs; they just need to get out there and get a job! If people would just suck it up like people did in the good ol’ days, we wouldn’t have 9% unemployment in this state.”

There are so many offensive and absurd implications of this “argument” that it’s hard to know where to begin in responding to it. One obvious place, however, is this:

What about the kids?

How does a person with young children at home go about taking on just any low-wage, hamburger-flipping job? Amazing as it many seem to folks on Right-Wing Avenue, not every parent of young children has a grandparent hanging around waiting to help raise their kids for free. These people need affordable child care.

Sadly, this obvious truth that long ago dawned on the leaders of most of the world’s industrialized nations still escapes the corporate conservatives who dominate American government. For a case in point, check out NC Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska’s story this morning over on the main PW site.  As Sarah reports, Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

This afternoon, legislators serving in the NC House are scheduled to approve HB 82, a bill that would reduce the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 5 percent to 4.5 percent of the federal credit for tax year 2013. Worse yet, legislators have already stated that they will not extend this important tax credit beyond its sunset date at the end of the year. Doing so would shift the tax load to the state’s lowest-earning families and could push more North Carolinians into poverty, according to a new report released today by the NC Budget and Tax Center.

North Carolina’s tax system does little to help low-earning workers and their children who are living on the margins; it actually makes it harder for them to meet basic needs. Even with the state EITC—which provides workers earning low wages with a credit to offset their total state and local tax contributions—moderate- and low-income working families still pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes compared to the upper-middle class and wealthy. As policymakers consider changes to the state’s tax code this legislative session, it is critical to maintain this important tax-equity tool. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

In the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, we take a look at the differences in poverty rates from county to county across the state, with special emphasis on comparing poverty in rural North Carolina and the state’s urban counties. For more details, see the latest issue of Prosperity Watch.