‘State of Working NC 2016’ Report Highlights How Policy Choices Have Violated the Promise of Hard Work for North Carolinians

Raleigh (Sept. 1, 2016) — Just in time for Labor Day, a major new report from the NC Justice Center demonstrates clear evidence that contradicts the trumpeting of a “Carolina Comeback”—and shows that low taxes, low regulation and lax labor standards largely do not lead to better economic outcomes nor address the challenges facing North Carolina.

“Hard work is supposed to provide the income to allow people to get by and set their children up for future success,” says Alexandra F. Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director and one of the authors of the report, State of Working North Carolina 2016. “North Carolina policymakers have violated that promise, both with policy choices that make it more difficult for North Carolinians to connect to good jobs, and with their failure to enact the policies that make sure work translates into greater economic security.”

The report details critical ways in which overall economic growth, jobs, and the changing nature of industry opportunities are falling short of what our economy, our communities and our people need to thrive. While North Carolina has benefited somewhat from the national economic expansion, the state has not done enough to make sure this expansion reaches every North Carolinian and every community. Too many workers have failed to find work or left the labor market for lack of jobs in their community. Far too many who are working find their wages falling short of what it takes to make ends meet.

State of Working North Carolina 2016 calls for a policy response to address a number of long-term trends, including:

  • The economic transformation away from manufacturing and towards a service economy;
  • The changing nature of work and relationships between workers and employers; and
  • Demographic shifts in the workforce

Quotes from Report’s Authors:

From Alexandra Forter Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director at the NC Justice Center: “Too many communities have failed to see the benefits of the national recovery. Whether it’s rural counties, regions or city neighborhoods, many places across North Carolina still have too few jobs and wages remain too low. Policymakers must contend with the changing geography of opportunity and target their efforts to extending the reach of the expansion to more communities.” (919-861-1468, Alexandra@ncjustice.org)

From Allan Freyer, Director of Workers’ Rights at the NC Justice Center: “North Carolina doesn’t just need more jobs, it needs more good jobs—the kind of jobs that provide workers with retirement security, health insurance, paid sick days, and wages that pay enough to afford the basics. Unfortunately, good jobs are harder and harder to come by for many workers, and nothing policy makers have done in recent years has improved this trend.” (919-856-2151, allan@ncjustice.org)

From Marion Johnson, Budget & Tax Center Policy Advocate at the NC Justice Center: “Our workforce is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, even faster than our general population. But since workers of color face wage discrimination and are disproportionately working low-wage jobs, wealth and upward mobility are becoming even more concentrated in white households. This kind of growing imbalance only predicts a weak economic future for our state.” (919-856-2176, marion@ncjustice.org)

From Patrick McHugh, Budget & Tax Center Economic Analyst at the NC Justice Center: “This has been a historically slow recovery, and policy coming out of Raleigh has done nothing to change that fact. Most working North Carolinians know that their wages aren’t growing but their bills are, so it’s strange to hear leaders in Raleigh talk about how great the economy is.” (919-856-2183, Patrick.McHugh@ncjustice.org)

From Tazra Mitchell, Budget & Tax Center Policy Analyst at the NC Justice Center: “North Carolina’s economic model is broken for so many families across the state, especially those headed by women and people of color. Hard work is not translating into bigger paychecks—which is forcing parents to make impossible decisions like whether to pay rent or child care, sometimes while working multiple jobs. We need policies that deliver inclusive growth so all workers can thrive.” (919-861-1451, Tazra@ncjustice.org)

For more information, contact: Alexandra F. Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director, 919-861-1468 or Alexandra@ncjustice.org; Mel Umbarger, Budget & Tax Center Senior Communications Specialist, mel@ncjustice.org.