Income inequality in America has been building for decades. Just last year, income inequality set a modern record—and the roots of the problem are the jobs deficit, the acceleration of low-wage jobs, and the tax code. As discussed in the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, income inequality is widespread and growing in North Carolina, with the top fifth of households holding over half of all state income. For more details, visit Prosperity Watch.
We are entering a season of intense debate over the challenges facing North Carolina. As discussed in the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, the new jobs numbers released by the NC Division of Employment Security last week confirmed what North Carolina’s workers have known from first-hand experience—the state is just not experiencing enough job creation to keep pace with the demands of its growing population. Dealing with this problem is one of the defining challenges of our time and presents a clear call for concrete policy solutions. For more details, visit Prosperity Watch.
As North Carolinians are learning the hard way, not all recessions are followed by robust economic recoveries. For all our concern over the current recovery, however, the years between the 2001 recession and the Great Recession of 2007-2009 also generated historically unprecedented negative economic trends. As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch demonstrates, the nation’s (and state’s) poverty rate failed to drop in the years of the formal recovery following the 2001 recession–the first time since the 1930s that post-recession economic growth proved unable to reduce poverty across the United States. For more details, see Prosperity Watch.
With unemployment in North Carolina at 9.6%, policy makers are rightfully focused on ensuring that the state’s economy creates more jobs for Tarheel workers. But as this week’s Prosperity Watch demonstrates, the state also needs to focus on creating better jobs, as well, jobs that pay decent wages and allow workers to support their families. Creating these good jobs would reverse the troubling reality of low-wage job creation seen during the 2000s. As the new issue points out, North Carolina’s economy lost hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs from 2001 to 2011, and in their place, saw a boom in low-wage employment instead. What caused this shift from high-wage to low-wage work? For more details, see this week’s Prosperity Watch.
For many North Carolina workers, the 2000s were a lost decade. Despite the economic promise of the 1990s boom, incomes, wages, and employment stagnated for 80% (and overwhleming majority) of the state’s residents between 2001 and 2011. At the same time, however, the top 20% of North Carolina’s workers saw a significant increase in their wages, in turn driving wage inequality ever higher. For details on the troubling growth in the state’s wage inequality, see this week’s issue of Prosperity Watch.
Motivated by the trends in wage and income inequality revealed by Prosperity Watch, the Budget & Tax Center is hosting an upcoming gathering with friends to highlight North Carolina’s growing gap between the hghest wage earners and everyone else–and the implications of this gap for the state’s long-term economic health. Anyone interested in this important issue is welcome to attend the gathering, and enjoy an art exhibit entitled PoorQuality:Inequality, at the Duke University Center for Advanced Hindsight. For more information and to RSVP click here. Come join us!