Protecting & Connecting Workers: It’s the best way for North Carolina to rebuild and move forward

Rebuilding from COVID-19 presents an opportunity to shore up our economic defenses and lift up communities that previously were left in harm’s way. Helping people overcome the barriers to rejoining the labor force is the quickest way to speed our collective economic recovery, and doing it right will put us on a path to a more resilient post-COVID economy. While not exhaustive, this report addresses some of the critical areas where helping workers will boost our economy in both the short and long run.

Read the 2021 State of Working North Carolina report

Among the highlights of the report:

    • Creating access to affordable child care:
      • Lack of child care presents the primary barrier to employment for around 70,000 Black, 45,00 Hispanic, and 125,000 white North Carolinians.
      • In North Carolina, women are 10 times more likely than men to name caring for a child who was not in school or child care as the main reason they aren’t working.
      • Around 100,000 people with incomes below $35,000 want to work but cannot because they have lacked child care in recent months.


    • Ensuring affordable transportation:
      • An estimated 50,000 North Carolinians experience a lack of transportation as the primary barrier to their ability to work.
      • The price of a used vehicle has increased by over 40 percent compared with 2020.
      • Roughly 105,000 white households lacked access to a vehicle in 2017, a figure almost identical to the number of Black households facing the same problem.


    • Protecting workers on the job:
      • More than 100,000 North Carolinians would be willing to enter the labor force if they felt secure from contracting or passing on COVID-19.
      • Universal access to paid sick leave could have averted thousands of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina per week during some periods of the pandemic.


    • Connecting workers to the digital world:
      • Lack of access to broadband internet and home computers perpetuates racial economic inequalities.
      • Roughly 45 percent of North Carolina households with incomes below $20,000 do not have a broadband internet subscription at home.
      • Lack of broadband access is not just a rural problem. Nearly 830,000 residents of rural counties and 730,000 residents of urban and suburban counties lack access to broadband internet.


    • Connecting workers to new careers:
      • Around 165,000 North Carolinians retired in recent months, increasing the need to train younger workers for the jobs they are leaving behind.
      • The occupations with the greatest labor shortage require extensive training and specialized skills.
      • The mismatch between workers’ existing skills and the needs of employers is greatest in many rural counties.

Read the 2021 State of Working North Carolina report

Previous State of Working NC reports