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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

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

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.

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The good folks at a group called North Carolina Focus on Increased Education Leadership & Dignity (NC FIELD) are raising up an issue that deserves your attention year-round, but especially at Thanksgiving time: the plight of farmworkers and farmworker children. This is from an email the group sent out today:

“Tomorrow we remember the struggles of newcomers and the generosity of strangers….In eastern North Carolina, in just one county where some farmworker youth organizers live and work, the economic impact of agriculture is estimated at 30%. The jobs are some of the most dangerous in our nation, pay no overtime, legally employ children, and expose workers regularly to dangerous chemicals. The labor force responsible for that windfall is largely invisible, poverty-stricken, and as young as twelve years old.” Read More

Poverty continued to disproportionately impact certain geographic communities in North Carolina in 2011, according to a report released last week by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. The data show that there was great variability in county-level poverty rates, especially when comparing rural and urban areas.See this chart for more details on county-level poverty rates in 2011.

At this point, the United States Census Bureau has only provided poverty levels for areas with at least 65,000 people. There are 39 counties in North Carolina that fit this criterion. In 2011, county-level poverty rates ranged from 10 percent in Union County to 30.4 percent in Robeson County. Eighteen counties had poverty rates equal to or below the state rate of 17.9 percent and 21 counties had poverty rates above 17.9 percent. Read More