MEDIA ADVISORY: Census releases income, housing and health insurance data data for North Carolina and its localities

MEDIA ADVISORY: Census releases income, housing and health insurance data data for North Carolina and its localities
The data released today differs from what was previously planned, but still contains vital information for media members

RALEIGH (Sep. 22, 2009) -- The US Census has delayed its 2008 American Community Survey release of poverty numbers until next Tuesday, Sep. 29, but today's data release still contains valuable information for reporters.

Today, departing from previous plans, the Census Department released data from the 2008 American Community Survey on median income and housing at the state and local level covering 36 North Carolina counties with populations of 65,000 or more. Health care coverage data for those same counties will also be released. 

Experts from the NC Justice Center will be available today to comment on this data and can provide the media with local numbers.

On Tuesday, Sep. 29, the NC Justice Center will release state and local poverty numbers along with an analysis of all of the census data released in September, what those numbers mean for North Carolinians and policy recommendations.  That analysis will include a state and county look at health insurance coverage, poverty, child poverty, family poverty, median income, and housing along with data from other sources on food stamps and unemployment.

Today's release of information includes:
  • Local health insurance data that will provide a new look at the state of the uninsured in North Carolina. 

    For the first time ever, local data about the uninsured - including whether people have private or public insurance - will be available. For example, reporters can see how many people don't have health insurance by Congressional District or by county. The numbers underscore the need for Congress to pass a comprehensive health reform bill right away.

  • Housing data is available:  reporters can discover how many renter households in North Carolina or certain localities are paying 35 percent or more of their income on rent. 

  • Median income on state and local level. Some intriguing median income finding include:

    • 2008 Median Income in North Carolina ($46,549) is a slight (yet statistically insignificant) increase over 2007 ($46,386)
    • 2008 NC Median Income is $5,480 below the national median income of $52,029.  The national median income fell by $661 between 2007 and 2008 (statistically significant drop)
    • NC ranks 39th out of 50 states in median income. In other words, 38 states have a higher median income than North Carolina including Georgia, Virginia, and Florida.
    • Of the 36 counties for which we have local data, Wake County had the highest median income in 2008 ($65,180) and Wilkes County had the lowest ($29,705)
    • Brunswick County experienced the largest gain in median income between 2007 and 2008, increasing by $6,511 to $46,179.
    • Wilkes County experienced the largest drop in median income between 2007 and 2008, decreasing by $6,000 to $29,705

Especially important: this information is from 2008, before the full extent of the current recession hit. Given that the data does not include 2009 information, we would expect today's numbers to be worse.

Experts from the NC Justice Center are available to interpret all of today's data, and will be available for comment during next week's data release as well.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Adam Searing or Adam Linker, Health Access Coalition, 919.856.2568 or 919.864.2074; Meg Gray, NC Budget & Tax Center, 919.856.3192; Jeff Shaw, communications director, NC Justice Center, 919.863.2402 (office) or 503.551.3615 (mobile).