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New analysis: N.C. and U.S. growing more diverse; General Assembly isn’t keeping up

The latest “Prosperity Watch” report from the the N. C Budget and Tax Center [1] offers some interesting data on North Carolina’s growing diversity and the failure of the make-up of state elected leaders to mirror that trend.

A review of our state’s demographics shows North Carolina is a growing and diverse state. This is great news for our state, considering decades of research [2] have shown that being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working. Unfortunately, statistics also show that North Carolina’s General Assembly is less diverse than both the U.S. and state general population, as only 22 percent of its body is composed of minorities, compared to U.S (38 percent) and NC (36 percent) populations. This is of serious concern, considering that the terms of democratic representation and voting rights are currently being legislated to limit rather than expand participation.

In 1790, the first U.S. census [3] found that America’s population stood at 3.8 million and that North Carolina’s population was 393,751. Today [4], the U.S. population stands at 325.3 million, while North Carolina’s population is 10.1 million. In North Carolina, Latinos represent 9 percent of the state’s population and Asians 3 percent. These represent half for the share each group represents in the U.S. population overall, respectively 18 percent and 6 percent. The current percentage of African Americans (22 percent) and American Indian/Native Americans (2 percent) in NC is higher compared to the the general population in the U.S., respectively 13 percent and 1 percent.

The strength of our economy and democracy is highly dependent on how equitably opportunity and representation are available to all North Carolinians and Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. An elected government that represents everyone can only lead to a stronger state and nation.