Here's Why North Carolina Keeps Getting Poorer
A recent Brookings Institution report found four North Carolina metro areas (Winston-Salem, Greensboro-High Point, Raleigh, and Charlotte) fell within the top 10 in the nation for both growth in poor population and growth of poor neighborhoods.From 2008 to 2012, the poverty rate within the state has grown from 14.6% to 18%, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
"Many folks lost their jobs in that period," Nichol said. "They either didn't get successful replacements or frequently got other jobs but they had dramatically diminished salaries. That's had a big impact on poverty levels in North Carolina."The second part of that double-whammy came in the form of the housing collapse and the great recession in 2008, which happened right as North Carolina was beginning to turn the corner after the NAFTA fallout. "Since that time, we've embarked upon a number of decisions that radically wound poor people," Nichol said.
One of those decisions came after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states had the option to opt in or opt out of the expanded Medicaid plan outlined in President Obama's Affordable Care Act. North Carolina was one of 20 states that decided not to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income residents, according to the Advisory Board Company.Earlier this year, North Carolina also cut unemployment benefits to a 14-week maximum, which is the shortest amount in the U.S, according to The Wall Street Journal. Previously, the maximum allowed in the state was 19 weeks. In addition, North Carolina became the only state in 30 years to eliminate a state Earned Income Tax Credit, which reduced taxes for low- and moderate-income people, according to WUNC.org. In conducting interviews with impoverished people in cities such as Charlotte, Nichol said the solution isn't as complicated as one would think.
"There are some jobs to be had in Charlotte, in Raleigh, but they are so dominantly low-wage, minimum wage, service-sector jobs. You just can't live on $7.25 an hour in Charlotte or Raleigh or Winston-Salem," he said. "What I think we need to do first is, a small step, raise the minimum wage in NC."
Thirteen states raised the minimum wage on Jan. 1, and those states are seeing a larger increase in the number of jobs created compared to the 37 states that did not, NPR reports. Even cities have raised the minimum wage, such as Seattle, which raised it to $15 within the city, USA Today reports.
Nichol sees a higher minimum wage as the obvious and easiest way to put a dent in North Carolina poverty, even though it's not the most realistic prospect."God knows our legislature would be among the last to approve it," he said, "but we ought to raise the minimum wage in North Carolina."
- Ola loses another founding member as Pranay Jivrajka leaves the ride-hailing giant
- Top stocks to watch out for on March 9
- Maha Budget: Rs 12,500 cr package for health institutions
- For women, Maha Budget offers stamp duty concession, special SRPF battalion
- Jeff Bezos' ex-wife MacKenzie Scott - third richest women in the world gets married to a chemistry teacher