Ten years after the Great Recession, N.C. has an economy that works for some
The report “Ten Years After the Great Recession, N.C. has an Economy that Works for Some” documents the persistence of long-standing economic inequalities (particularly along racial lines), a deepening divide between wealthy investors and everyone else, a lack of robust job growth overall, and the continued concentration of economic opportunity in a few metropolitan areas.
Among the major themes of the report:
- Job growth isn’t cutting it: N.C. has not been creating enough jobs to meet the demands of a growing population.
- Racial barriers to prosperity remain: Persistent structural barriers mean communities of color were hit hardest by the recession, and disparities in pay and poverty rates remain.
- Income and wealth inequality has continued to expand: Investors got richer, but virtually none of that money made it into the paychecks of working North Carolinians. And middle-class jobs continue to dry up.
- Many communities have not recovered: Half of North Carolina’s counties have not gotten back to where they were before the Recession, and a third of the counties in our state have lost jobs even as the plodding national recovery continues.
About our state economy work
North Carolina’s economy is still struggling to rebuild after the Great Recession while also continuing to contend with fundamental economic transformations that create barriers to opportunity in many communities. These broader economic trends and the fiscal decisions made at the state level impact family’s economic hardship and the opportunities available in communities across the state.
Public policy can have a significant impact on North Carolina’s economy. State investments in economic development, workforce development, and job creation can open doors to opportunities for the state’s most struggling communities. However, poorly developed policies can undermine economic growth, exacerbate long-term unemployment, and rob certain groups and geographic areas of economic security.
- Poverty, Inequality and the State of Opportunity – Over 1.5 million North Carolinians live in poverty and many more struggle to make ends meet. Years of slow growth and underinvestment have created particular barriers for communities of color where more than 1 in 5 people are living in poverty. Over time as the economy has grown and transformed so too has inequality and the effects on opportunity for all North Carolinians has been significant in terms of economic mobility and the vibrancy of our middle class. The Budget and Tax Center publishes regular analysis of poverty, inequality and the state of opportunity as well as analyzes proposals that would support North Carolinians struggling today and build greater opportunity for the future.
- Economic and Workforce Development – North Carolina’s approach to economic development primarily involves giving millions of dollars in subsidies to already-profitable businesses, and often any new jobs these subsidies create do not benefit economically disadvantaged counties or populations. The Budget and Tax Center publishes analyses of current economic development programs and develops alternative proposals that could create widespread opportunity across the state. This requires as well a strong workforce development system that provides for career pathways in growing industries that pay living wages and it will be increasingly important for North Carolina’s community college system and university to remain affordable and innovative at supporting students young and old into the workforce.
- Communities of Opportunity — Communities across the state are dealing with the significant challenges of population growth, demographic and industry shifts and fewer public dollars to build an infrastructure of opportunity for all. The Budget and Tax Center works to analyze and develop proposals to support equitable development across the state with a particular focus on how transportation, housing and job opportunities are interconnected.
- The Labor Market and Economic Growth – The functioning of North Carolina’s labor market is critical to the sound functioning of the state’s economy. The Budget and Tax Center monitors the labor market and other indicators of how the broader economy is faring with an eye to understanding the impact on individual North Carolinians. In addition, the Budget and Tax Center publishes reports on North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system and creates proposals on how North Carolina can better support unemployed workers and increase access to quality jobs.