Historic barriers for some hold everyone in North Carolina back

The past need not dictate our future, but only if we look clear-eyed at the present. Honestly confronting North Carolina’s fractured and unbalanced economic landscape can be daunting. The scope of human hardship is vast, and all the more outrageous when a few people have enough wealth to last many lifetimes. But ignoring the realty facing so many North Carolinians, and pretending everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, only works to protect the barriers that made our economy so lopsided in the first place.

Download a PDF of the 2019 report

We need not accept an economy that oppresses so many while elevating a lucky few; we have the tools to build a better tomorrow. Building a better tomorrow starts with breaking down barriers to opportunity so all North Carolinians — Black, brown and white, of all genders and ages — can walk the path to prosperity.

Section I of this report starts by looking at what happens when so many North Carolinians face barriers to getting and keeping good jobs. Digging past the headline unemployment rate reveals a host of barriers including unstable and uncertain work arrangements, racial inequalities in access to good-paying jobs, gender pay gaps that actually increase with levels of employment, and wages in our state that remain well below the national and regional average.

Section II goes more deeply into some of the specific barriers responsible for inequities discussed in Section I, and how these barriers can be battered down. By helping low-income communities connect to centers of employment, smoothing the path back to stable employment for people with criminal records, and keeping people from falling through the gaps in our education and training systems, our state has the opportunity to reverse the systems that currently keep so many North Carolinians in poverty and economic insecurity.

Section III addresses why bringing down historical barriers is work that benefits us all. Barriers to prosperity aren’t just immoral and oppressive to the people they constrain, they hold our whole state back from reaching its full social and economic potential.