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NC Budget and Tax Center

In another sign of an economy that is leaving too many people behind, the share of low-income working families headed by single women is on the rise, suggesting that hard work just isn’t paying off for single mothers–especially African American single mothers. For more details, see the latest issue of Prosperity Watch.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Economic Development Board released a new strategic plan for creating jobs and growing the state’s economy over the next decade. The plan listed a number of admirable and important policy goals, including supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, promoting rural prosperity, and strengthening community-level opportunities for economic revitalization.

Unfortunately, last year’s tax cuts and budget cuts have greatly undermined the state’s ability to achieve these goals going forward.

In order to accommodate the $525 million in revenues lost to last year’s tax cut package and still balance the state budget, lawmakers made deep cuts to many core investments—including long-standing state support for nonprofits engaged in economic and community development work.  In the current biennium, the portion of the state budget responsible for these important initiatives—Commerce-State Aid—was cut by $38 million, a 64 percent reduction.

And even this overall reduction masks the true damage to the state’s ability to invest in meeting the new economic development objectives laid out in the strategic plan. The real damage comes from the specific initiatives that were singled out for cuts or outright elimination.

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NC Budget and Tax Center

Despite all the claims we keep hearing about the state’s supposedly miraculous economic recovery, too many regions across the state are still waiting for the recovery to happen.  The latest issue of Prosperity Watch digs into unemployment and job creation trends in the state’s metro areas and finds that the decrease in unemployment over the last year is almost entirely due to unprecedented drops in the labor force, not to the jobless moving into employment. See the latest issue for details.

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Moral March on RaleighYes, the end of the work week is here for many of us, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more important work to do.

#1 on the list, of course, is tomorrow’s Moral March on Raleigh. As has been reported in numerous places, a record crowd is expected so tune up your voice, come early (9:00 am if you can), wear warm rain gear and bring your mobile devices so you can share messages and images with the wider world at the #MoralMarch,#MoralMonday and #HKonJ hashtags.

And speaking of important work that needs to get done ASAP, the New York Times is once again reporting to the nation about a huge screw-up in North Carolina. This time it’s the coal ash disaster in Eden. Click here to see an informative slideshow on the spill at the N.C. Conservation Network Facebook page.

And speaking of slideshows, Think Progress has another interesting one entitled “7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked to Learn About Ronald Reagan.” For example, #4: “Reagan grew the federal government big time.”  To quote: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

An oversight committee at the General Assembly splashed more cold water on claims that policy decisions made in the 2013 legislative session are responsible for big improvements in the state’s economy.

In testimony before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance Wednesday, N.C. State economist Dr. Michael Walden made the crucial point that North Carolina’s economic recovery began in 2009—long before 2013—and is largely shaped by broader national and global economic trends beyond the influence of the state’s policy makers.

According to Walden, North Carolina’s experience of business cycles has often been bumpier than the nation’s—with faster growth in recoveries and steeper falls during recessions. Over the past two business cycles, the Tarheel State saw bigger percentage job losses than did the nation as a whole during recessionary periods. As a result, the state’s employment growth since the recession ended in 2009 is still insufficient to deliver the jobs needed to provide everyone a job who is seeking work and close the state’s jobs deficit—despite seeing employment grow at a faster rate than the average.

Taken together with the fact that North Carolina created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did the year before, according to preliminary estimates from the establishment survey, these trends make it clear that the current economic recovery is neither all that special, nor can employment growth be linked to policies enacted last year.

And while the state’s labor market is clearly moving in the right direction, recent improvements are still not enough to return employment to pre-recession levels. In fact, at the current rate of job creation holding all else constant, it will take 13 years to replace the jobs lost during the Great Recession and keep up with population growth.

Given this reality, it’s clear that policy makers are just plain wrong when they claim that the policies they enacted in 2013 are responsible for an economic turnaround in North Carolina.