Prosperity Watch

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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