NC JUSTICE NEWS: Lasting Effects of the State Budget + Debt Deal + Women & the Economy

August 30, 2011

STATE BUDGET: The real economic impact

Each month, new county, metro and statewide unemployment numbers are released, and each month, the evidence becomes increasingly clear: this budget truly is a job-killer.

With the state already suffering from anemic job creation, local and state government layoffs in North Carolina completely negated gains across the state last month, leading to increased unemployment. In metro areas, job losses are being driven by large-scale public sector losses, when job creation would have been positive without these layoffs. These setbacks are taking place when the recently enacted state budget has already had severe impacts on the state’s economy over the last several months.

In a misguided effort to “right-size” North Carolina’s government, lawmakers have in fact downsized the state’s economy, damaging public sector investments and increasing unemployment across the board. A newly released report by the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center showed that the state budget will eradicate thousands of jobs across the state, with at least 42 percent of these job losses in the private sector. The report also found that:

  • Every region will have more money taken out of the local economy through spending cuts than is put back in through tax cuts
  • Spending cuts will wipe out any positive job creation related to tax cuts
  • Once the budget takes effect in 2012, the impact will cost some regions in N.C. as many as 9,242 jobs, with between $65 million and $486 million in lost income

The proof of the legislature's job-killing budget has been shown in every job loss and every devastating cut to public investments. Months of employment reports and negative tradeoffs between private and public-sector jobs are setting a dangerous stage for a severely debilitated economic recovery.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: Prof. Kenneth Thomas joins us on Wednesday

A lot of people think they understand what works and what doesn’t in the field of economic incentives. Professor Kenneth Thomas of the University of Missouri at St. Louis – a political scientist, author, and economic development expert – is one of those rare individuals to have actually conducted the hard research to back up his conclusions.

Join NC Policy Watch and Professor Thomas this Wednesday, Aug. 31 for a Crucial Conversation event that will address economic development subsidies, and what the record in the U.S. and abroad tells us about spending public dollars to grown private businesses.

Don’t miss this chance to hear from a recognized national expert on this most vexing and controversial subject. The event will be held at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building in Raleigh at noon, and will include a box lunch in the total cost ($10). Click here to register for the event. Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com with any questions.

DEBT-CEILING DEAL: A bad deal for North Carolina

The effects of the controversial federal debt-ceiling deal will make itself known far beyond the confines of Washington in the upcoming years.

In fact, the deal will adversely impact communities in North Carolina and the state’s overall economy by slashing support for critical public investments. It threatens to slow the state’s already-weak economy recovery, at a time when unemployment rates are up and job creation is down.

In a new report, Budget & Tax Center analysts describe how the deal will force cuts to education, job retraining, health services, improvements to public infrastructure, and research for innovation in the 21st century economy. Even worse, the deal ignored the country’s highest priority by neglecting to include any efforts to put people back to work across the state. The across-the-board cuts over the next nine years that will occur if the Supercommittee fails to pass an agreement will only make it so that vital national priorities like public schools, housing, early childhood education, science research and other vital services are all competing with one another for an ever-shrinking amount of funds.

WOMEN & THE ECONOMY: Still an uneven playing field

This August marked the 91st anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the full right to vote. It is a remarkable achievement, and honored every year in remembrance of the 70 years of campaigning and revolutionary efforts by women across the U.S.

Yet it’s equally important to look back and evaluate just what has – and just as importantly, what hasn't – changed over the last century. Women have higher college graduation rates, and a much larger stake in the workforce; and yet the fact remains that women in North Carolina with a graduate or professional degree earn less than men with a bachelor’s degree. The Great Recession has added an additional blow to women in the labor force, with recent public sector layoffs largely affecting the high number of women in education and social services.

Last week, the NC Justice Center analysts cited just a few of the basic facts about women in North Carolina’s current economy. 828,000 women in the state lived in poverty as of 2009, meaning 1 in 5.6 women live below the federal poverty level.

In addition, many workplace policies are still based on the narrow definition of a male breadwinner, with women more often staying at home to take care of their families. Yet in North Carolina, more than 66 percent of women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. The U.S. is in dire need of revamped, family-friendly workplace policies, ones that directly address the multitudes of work-family tensions that so many Americans face. Workers need time to recover from illness, high quality and affordable health care, and additional policies that allow workers to keep their jobs, particularly during such uncertain economic times.

Some of these issues aren’t specifically male or female. But it’s critical that gender equality continues to evolve, particularly in light of an increasingly diverse and dynamic workforce.

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Lunch for older adults, caregivers

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Wednesday, September 21 for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for vulnerable, older adults, and build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system, and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). A physician and his staff will be on site to conduct health screens in one of OIC’s mobile medical units.

The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the OIC Community Health Education Center in Rocky Mount. To reserve your space, contact OIC at (252) 212-3461 or Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2146. For more information, visit the NC Justice website.

 

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