Prosperity Watch

Issue 39, No. 4: Kansas Tax Experiment Greatly Reduces State Revenue, Serves as Cautionary Tale for NC
As the national economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, most states are seeing growth in tax revenue and using the increased revenue to begin restoring funding to public investments. Other states, including North Carolina and Kansas, are instead cutting investments in core public services as a result of enacting huge tax cuts. In fact, North Carolina is more than three weeks into the new fiscal year without a revised budget because the state can’t afford the tax cuts and there are simply too few dollars available to finance state priorities. More...
Issue 39, No. 3: Unemployment Insurance Cuts Harm Jobless Workers, Hurt Economy

In an economy where workers are laid off through no fault of their own and there remain too few jobs for those who want to work, unemployment insurance provides some support. This allows those workers to meet their basic needs while they look (and wait) for a new employment opportunity.  Unemployment insurance helps workers, employers, and the entire economy, as workers are able to stay engaged in the labor force and buy goods and services in their local communities. More ...

 

Issue 39, No. 2: North Carolina is Home to Fastest Growth in Share of People Living in High-Poverty Areas
Among the nation’s 50 states, North Carolina experienced the biggest increase in the proportion of people living in high-poverty areas between 2000 and 2010, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau  report. The growing number of North Carolinians living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is problematic because they face restricted access to the jobs, education, and networks that can improve their financial standing. The new report signals the need for policymakers to focus on the investments and policies that support ladders of opportunity, from Murphy to Manteo, to all North CaroliniansMore...
Issue 39, No. 1: No Fireworks in Sight for Military Families Who Filed NC EITC For Last Time This Year
Independence Day is a time for Americans to come together and celebrate the importance of community, country, and military families and veterans. Military families provide us all security, but far too often, economic security escapes them. Due to lawmakers’ decision to axe the North Carolina Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) last year, nearly 1 million families—including 64,000 military families—now have one less tool to help them make ends meet and avoid raising their children in poverty. More...
Issue 38, No. 4: NC experiences boom in low-wage jobs since Great Recession
North Carolina's recovery from the Great Recession has been marked by slow job growth and persistent challenges for working families to make ends meet. Making matters even more troubling is the reality that the overwhelming majority of job creation since the Recession has occurred in industries that on average pay low wages. Low-wage work is defined simply as work that pays less than what it takes for a family or an individual to make ends meets, according to a new report from the North Carolina Justice Center.
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Issue 38, No. 3: Too many families not making enough to make ends meet in NC
It's getting harder and harder to make ends meet in North Carolina. One in five North Carolina families earn too little to afford life’s essentials and move up the economic ladder, thanks to the long-term erosion of good-paying manufacturing jobs and their replacement with much-lower-paying jobs in service  industries like hospitality and tourism. As low-wage jobs boomed and good-paying jobs vanished, workers in the middle of the pay scale have seen their wages stagnate—a trend that is unlikely to change as long as industries paying poverty-wage jobs continue to claim the lion’s share of the state’s job creation. More...
Issue 38, No. 2: State spending declines as share of economy under budget proposals
State investments are essential building blocks of long-term economic growth, yet over the past five years, we’ve seen North Carolina state spending actually decline as a share of the economy. State budgets typically allow spending to grow as population grows and the economy changes. This ensures that state investments keep up with the changing needs of the state’s residents—building enough schools and purchasing enough textbooks to meet an increasing population of school children; providing adequate medical care and residential services to North Carolina’s growing number of seniors; and making sure that community college funding keeps up with the needs of unemployed workers to receive job training. More...
Issue 38, No. 1: 40 rural counties lose working-age population
North Carolina’s smallest places are experiencing some of the toughest times. Despite averaging 10 percent population growth  statewide in the years since the onset of the Great Recession, the state’s rural areas are lagging significantly behind the urban areas of the state. In fact, many communities in rural North Carolina are losing jobs and seeing a long-term contraction in the working-age population—the number of people between the ages of 16 and 64. More...
Issue 37, No. 2: NC’s unemployment rate with missing workers remains high
The reality of North Carolina’s labor market is far less rosy than the recent drop in the state’s unemployment rate suggests. Five years after the end of the Great Recession, there are still too few jobs for those who want to work, and the result is that the state, like the nation, is experiencing a growth in the number of workers missing from the labor market. The missing workers measure is a new indicator that can paint a much sharper picture of just how the economy is faring. More...
Issue 37, No. 1: Revenue Shortfall Hinders Investments in a Strong Economy
As lawmakers return to Raleigh this week, they face a significant gap in the state budget between revenues and expected expenditures in the current and next fiscal years. Even more troubling, this gap may be much greater than anticipated, largely because the personal income tax changes passed by the General Assembly last year is likely to cost the state more. The consensus revenue forecast produced by the Fiscal Research Division and the Office of State Budget and Management found that revenues will fall $445 million short of what was anticipated for the current fiscal year (FY 2013-2014), which ends on June 30. More...
Issue 36, No. 5: North Carolina faces significant jobs deficit
Although North Carolina has seen some improvement in the state’s economy over the last year, the Tarheel state is still not creating enough jobs to fully recover from the Great Recession. North Carolina’s job growth is slower than the national average and slower than in previous years—and it’s been so slow, that at current rates it will take nearly a decade to replace the jobs lost to the recession and keep up with population growth. More...
Issue 36, No. 4: North Carolina needs good jobs
dsadsa Not only does North Carolina need more jobs, the state needs good jobs. Since the end of the Great Recession, public debate has rightly focused on creating a greater number of employment opportunities to meet the needs of jobless workers. And while full employment is certainly a pre-requisite for ensuring that the recovery truly benefits all workers, it is critical for the jobs that are created to be “good” jobs that make work pay.  A good job is defined not just by wage levels but also by the availability of employer-provided benefits that support the health of workers, their retirement security and the ability for career mobility. More...
Issue 36, No. 3: Tax Shift Harms Working Families, Ability to Invest for Strong Economy
Despite evidence showing no clear relationship between tax cuts and positive state-level economic performance, North Carolina lawmakers paid for tax cuts that will largely benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations by shifting the tax load onto middle- and low-income taxpayers, making the state’s already upside-down tax system worse. North Carolina’s new tax code results in taxpayers at the lowest end of the income spectrum, with income of $17,000 or less, paying around 9.5 percent of their annual income in total state and local taxes. More...
Issue 36, No. 2: NC's children of color face significant barriers to climbing socioeconomic ladder
Hard work and skill just are not enough to achieve success and climb the socioeconomic ladder for too many Americans in today’s economy. All too often, parents’ financial standing, educational attainment, and especially race play decisive roles in helping some of our citizens climb that ladder, while others remain mired at the bottom. In fact, most children of color fare poorer on average than their counterparts on key milestones from birth to early adulthood, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. More...
Issue 36, No. 1: Huge Income Tax Cuts in Kansas Fail to Spur Promised Economic Renaissance
In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, legislative leaders and Governor McCrory have mistakenly claimed that cutting corporate and personal income taxes will make North Carolina more economically competitive for outside investment and job creation. Using this misguided logic, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed a tax plan that shifts the tax load to middle- and low-income taxpayers while providing huge tax cuts to wealthy taxpayers and profitable corporations. A conservative estimate of the revenue loss is $2.4 billion over the next five years. More...
Issue 35, No. 4: Labor force declined across 89 counties in North Carolina last year
A growing labor force is essential to ensuring a robust and long-term economic recovery from the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the state’s labor force saw unprecedented decline over the last year, shedding more than 60,000 workers since January 2013. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that the state’s rural areas have clearly borne the brunt of the shrinking labor force. The labor force is the pool of workers between the ages of 16 and 65 who are either employed, or unemployed and looking or work. More...
Issue 35, No. 3: North Carolina's Job Creation Follows National Lead
Contrary to recent claims that North Carolina’s job creation rates over the last year have been out-of-the-ordinary, the Tarheel state experienced the same sluggish job creation rate as the rest of the nation over the last year. As a result, recent improvements the state’s economy are simply the result of improvements in the overall national economy, rather than special policy decisions in North CarolinaMore...

Issue 35, No. 2: Erosion of NC's Corporate Income Tax Contributes to Revenue and Budget Challenges

North Carolina is seeing a steady erosion of a critical pillar that supports the state’s revenues and public investments. North Carolina’s corporate income tax (CIT) generates the third largest source of General Fund revenue within the state’s tax system. Together with the personal income tax and the state sales tax, the three taxes have historically represented around 90 percent of total annual General Fund revenue. While revenue raised from the CIT is relatively small compared to the two more prominent taxes, this revenue plays an important role in funding public investments such as education, healthcare services, public safety, environmental protection, and economic development initiatives. More...
Issue 35, No. 1: Hard work fails to pay off for North Carolina's workers
At the heart of the American Dream is the idea that hard work is supposed to pay off—that anyone who works a full time job should be able to make ends and achieve upward mobility over the course of their lives. Unfortunately, seismic shifts in the global economy away from manufacturing and towards services have pushed this dream further and further away from too many of North Carolina’s workers. More...
Issue 34, No. 4: North Carolina's income inequality soars
Over the past 30 years, the experience of those at the top of the economic ladder has diverged dramatically from those of everyone else, as income inequality has surged in North Carolina and across the nation. In newly released data on income inequality from the Economic Policy Institute, lopsided income growth characterizes every state in the nation between 1979 and 2007.  And North Carolina is no exception. In the Tarheel State, the top 1 percent saw their incomes grow by 98.4 percent while the bottom 99 percent saw just 9.2 percent income growth over the same period. More...
Issue 34, No. 3: Share of single mothers who work but are low-income is on the rise
In another sign of an economy that is leaving too many working families behind, the share of low-income working families headed by single women is on the rise across the nation. There are now 4.1 million low-income families headed by working mothers in the United States, according to a new report by the Working Poor Families Project, increasing to 58 percent of all working families headed by women in 2012, up from 54 percent in 2007. The report defines “low-income” for a family of three—one mom and two children—as $36,966, twice the official federal poverty line. More...
Issue 34, No. 2: Drop in NC metro unemployment rates mostly due to shrinking labor force
Despite falling unemployment rates over the course of 2013, most of North Carolina’s metro areas are still waiting for a meaningful jobs recovery. This is largely because the overwhelming majority of unemployed workers in metro North Carolina didn’t move into employment, they moved out of the labor force altogether. In fact, all 14 of the state’s metros saw their labor forces shrink from December 2012 to December 2013, despite seeing their combined populations actually increase over the same period. More...
Issue 34, No. 1: Financial insecurity among households challenges economic mobility
As North Carolina continues a fragile recovery from the Great Recession, many households across the state are not prepared to withstand an unexpected life event that would negatively impact their financial circumstances. The financial security and stability of North Carolina households ranks 46st among states, according to the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard produced by Center for Corporation for Enterprise Development. Financial insecurity can serve as a major barrier to economic opportunity and mobility, particularly for struggling families. More...
Issue 33, No. 4: Income inequality rises in North Carolina
Over the past 30 years, income inequality has increased significantly, a middle class wages have stagnated and low-skill middle wage jobs have vanished. The result has been an unprecedented division between the economic trajectory of the wealthiest in our state and everyone else. A growing body of research shows that high levels of income inequality have a host of negative outcomes. In fact, income inequality has been associated with slowing the pace of economic expansions. More...
Issue 33, No. 3: North Carolina's labor force experiences significant decline
Over the past six months, many policy makers celebrated the falling unemployment as an indication that North Carolina’s economy has turned the corner and begun experiencing robust job creation. Unfortunately, this is a jobs recovery many in the state are still waiting for. The dropping unemployment rate has largely coincided with a steep drop in the labor force-the pool of workers who either have jobs or want them rather than in the unemployed finding new jobs. More...
Issue 33, No. 2: North Carolina's counties remain in poverty’s tight grip
Fifty years ago this week, President Johnson launched a crusade against poverty. As we reflect on those efforts, we must recognize the War on Poverty’s successes as well as the work that remains. The good news is that safety net initiatives inspired by the War on Poverty reduce the number of families living in poverty by almost half, while simultaneously reducing the depth of the hardship faced by poor families. The bad news, however, is that despite this progress, economic hardship still remains high across too many communities in North Carolina. More...
Issue 33, No. 1: North Carolina's job creation in 2013 weakest of any year since 2009
As the New Year begins, progress on North Carolina’s job creation over the past year has become a hot topic.  Despite superficial improvements in the unemployment rate, the real condition of the state’s labor market is more complicated—and far more troubling—than is often discussed.  Perhaps most importantly, the jobs picture has seen very little measurable improvement in 2013—the labor force is shrinking and employment levels remain below the national average.  More...

 

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