Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Great Recession makes N.C. much poorer

The N.C. Justice Center has dissected new census data and found poverty rose sharply in every region of North Carolina in 2009, highlighting the widespread impact of the recession.
The information released today from the U.S. Census "offers the first glimpse of the impact of the recession on North Carolina’s families and shows even sharper increases in poverty and child poverty than anticipated," the Justice Center reported.
“North Carolina’s families are struggling to get by in this economic downturn and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Louisa Warren, a Senior Policy Advocate at the center. “The Great Recession has pushed more than 168,000 North Carolina families into poverty just from 2008, a startling increase that will put pressure on our public systems as they work to support struggling families.”

The Census’ American Community Survey recorded a large jump in poverty in North Carolina, from 14.3 percent in 2007 to 16.3 percent in 2009. That puts nearly 1.5 million North Carolinians officially in poverty, or making at or below $22,050 annually for a family of four.
Similar to overall poverty, child poverty in North Carolina surged to 22.2 percent in 2009 from 19.2 percent in 2007. More than one in five children in North Carolina are now poor.
Further demonstrating the profound impact of the Great Recession, deep poverty—those living below half the poverty rate—has also risen considerably in North Carolina. In 2009, 7.1 percent of North Carolinians were living in deep poverty, making at or below $11,025 annually to support a family of four, up from 6 percent in 2007. In 2009, an estimated 643,429 North Carolinians were in deep poverty, representing significant distress for North Carolina.
According to the Justice Center, even these numbers may understate the problem. the center noted that "the census data released today were collected in the 12 month period around December 2008 when unemployment remained low relative to its levels in the latter half of 2009. Today’s data is therefore just a first look at the recession’s impact."

As a result of rising unemployment rates, median household income in North Carolina dropped to $43,674 in 2009, down from $46,210 in 2007.
Median household income varied across the state and the country. Robeson County had the lowest (among those for which data is available) median household income at $24,788 and many of the counties with high unemployment additionally experienced low median household income: Surry County’s median household income was $33,159 while Burke County’s median household income was $35,004. Urban counties continued to experience the highest median household income: Wake County’s median household income, the highest in the state, was at $63,609 in 2009 and Mecklenburg County’s median household income was at $52,881.
North Carolina’s median household income remained lower than some of its Southern neighbors and Virgnia, Georgia, and Florida all had higher median household incomes in 2009.
For strategies and more information on the report, go to www.ncjustice.org.


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