By Christopher Chaves, Budget & Tax Center

Hopefully, North Carolina has weathered the worst of the pandemic, but many still struggle. Recent installments of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey suggest that far too many North Carolinians continue to have difficulty with rent payments, food insufficiency, and basic household expenses. Furthermore, discrepancies along racial lines point to lingering systemic barriers against the success of people of color.

More than 1 in 10 NC adults living with children reported that their household sometimes or often does not have enough to eat. In total, more than 700,000 NC adults reported that their household was food-insecure. Furthermore, the Household Pulse Survey shows that nationwide, Black and Latinx adults are more than twice as likely to experience this hardship as white adults.

Some 17 percent of NC renters reported that their household was behind on rent, and 28 percent of NC adults reported that their household sometimes or often had trouble affording usual expenses in the past 7 days. The Household Pulse Survey’s sample suggests that nearly 400,000 NC renters are behind on rent, and more than 2 million NC adults had trouble with usual expenses. Again, the survey points to discrepancies in hardship across race: nationwide, Black and Latinx adults are up to 2 times as likely to report these hardships as white adults.

These numbers reflect the ongoing financial harm created by COVID-19. Without jobs available to many, people will continue to struggle with expenses like rent, food, and household supplies, which also creates challenges for many North Carolinians who want to return to the labor market. For many families without savings to fall back on, a missed rent payment from last year, for example, could still be creating financial hardship in 2021.