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Sharon DeckerYou gotta’ hand it to state Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker for one thing: she continues to be the one McCrory administration official who will occasionally admit a problem and not directly blame the Perdue administration for its existence. She also frequently doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least she occasionally seems sincere.

This past summer, she  said that the controversial legislative session and the protests it spawned was making it tough to sell the state to potentially relocating businesses. Now, this week, as several news outlets have reported, she’s admitted that North Carolina’s “skills gap” is a problem when wooing businesses looking for highly-educated workers.

Funny, that sounds an awful lot like what progressives and McCrory administration critics have been saying all along — namely that the key to solving our economic problems lies not in slashing taxes but in investing in our kids and workersRead More

All too often, we hear the comforting notion that when it comes to economic growth, a “rising tide lifts all boats”–that a growing economy benefits everyone through rising incomes. As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch makes clear, however, the reality of North Carolina’s economic growth has exploded this myth for far too many families in the state. Despite steady growth in Gross State Product–the total value of all the goods and services produced in North Carolina–median household income has actually declined since 2004, suggesting that the rising tide of growth is leaving too many families alone to sink. See the latest issue of Prosperity Watch for details.

For decades, policymakers and economists alike have all assumed that a growing economy automatically translates into increased prosperity and improved quality of life for a majority of citizens. This is the theory that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” As the American economy continues to transition in the 21st century, however, it is increasingly clear that economic growth by itself neither lifts all boats nor delivers the benefits to America’s working families that have long been promised.

In a point echoed by a recent BTC report, economic growth just isn’t enough—positive change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) no longer translates into increased prosperity for all.

In fact, the opposite is true. As shown in the following charts developed by Demos, decades of economic growth have yielded little in the way of increased incomes for working families;

Personal_Income_Lags_Behind_Growth_1

…. or meaningful reductions in poverty.

Read More

This is from the release distributed this morning by the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

Sometimes growth just isn’t enough. That’s the conclusion of our new report, which argues that North Carolina needs a fresh approach to economic development that focuses specifically on raising incomes for all North Carolinians instead of assuming that economic growth will simply lift all boats to economic prosperity. Read More

Folks interested in economic development policy should check out a new report released by the Budget and Tax Center today.  As discussed in the report, the state needs a fresh approach to creating jobs and growing the economy—an updated economic development strategy that fits the demands and challenges of the 21st century. At the heart of this new approach, the primary goal for the state’s economic development efforts should be achieving growth in median household income.

The fundamental challenge facing North Carolina’s economy in the first decades of the 21st century is how to replace rapidly vanishing jobs in declining manufacturing industries with jobs in growing industries that pay enough to allow workers and their families to make ends meet and achieve middle class prosperity.

To meet this challenge, the state should refocus its economic development goals to not just to promote “growth” for its own sake, but to ensure that as many people and regions as possible benefit from growth.  As a result, North Carolina should adopt an integrated, “all-of-the-above” approach to economic development, one that leverages the state’s existing assets and strategies—such as its top-notch research universities and regional clusters of thriving industries like pharmaceutical manufacturing—to support all types of business growth. This involves the expansion of existing businesses and the creation of new homegrown businesses, alongside strategies for attracting outside businesses to the state.

This involves fostering businesses in industry clusters that are not only expanding, but that also pay high wages and offer good benefits, and to target those efforts to the regions of the state that lagging behind.

Finally, a 21st century strategy requires 21st century ways of measuring whether that strategy is succeeding. As a result, policymakers need to use a broader range of indicators beyond economic growth— including median household income and poverty rates—that reflect changes in the standard of living and the ability of families to prosper in the 21st century.

For more details, see the report.