RALEIGH (October 30, 2020) — The Budget & Tax Center has released two new publications today — one on annual poverty data for North Carolina and one on how few North Carolinians with low incomes actually will receive the Extra Credit Grant.
The brief “N.C. Extra Credit Grant Program leaves out families with the greatest need“ discusses how flawed policy design, poor targeting, and arbitrary deadlines prevented hundreds of thousands of North Carolina families from accessing the financial supports created with federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to help parents with the cost of virtual learning and child-care.
People who were not required to file state income taxes because they did not make enough money in 2019 had to apply separately to receive the grant. Well over 200,000 families were likely eligible for the Extra Credit Grant but needed to apply before the Oct. 15 deadline. However, there were only 14,910 online applications and 262 paper applications completed, which means only about 6 percent of eligible families successfully applied.
“The N.C. Extra Credit Grant Program will fail to provide even a dime of support for over 200,000 eligible families with the greatest needs,” said Leila Pedersen, Policy Analyst with the NC Budget & Tax Center and author of the brief. “Instead, 25 percent of the total grants distributed will likely go to households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more.”
The flaws of this program in reaching North Carolinians who are most in need become even more important in light of new poverty data available for North Carolina, which the Budget & Tax Center analyzes in its major annual report released today.
In 2019, 13.6 percent of North Carolinians lived in poverty — an income of just $25,750 for a family of four. This means the state entered the pandemic with more than 1.4 million residents in poverty, and many more North Carolinians are likely to experience poverty during their lifetimes. Far from being an issue affecting a small percentage of people, nearly 3 in 5 Americans will experience poverty at some point in adulthood. “Persistent poverty demands a just recovery for North Carolinians” reviews the latest available data on poverty and hardship in North Carolina, including:
- American Community Survey data on poverty and income in 2019 that show stark racial inequities and a lopsided economy where the wealthiest people benefit the most from economic growth.
- How the poverty level compares to a true Living Income Standard of nearly $53,000.
- Analysis showing that safety net programs can cut poverty in half.
- Widespread food insecurity and housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic, shown in the results of the new Household Pulse Survey.
- Employment data indicating that while high wage jobs have fully recovered since February, there are 17 percent fewer low wage jobs available.
“Poverty limits the potential of our communities,” said Logan Rockefeller Harris, Senior Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center and author of the report. “We all want to live in a state where every North Carolinian — Black, brown, and white — can thrive, and that means making policy choices focused on lifting people out of poverty. We need a racially equitable recovery that’s focused on the people who have been harmed the most, that leads to high quality, living-wage jobs for the people who currently have the lowest earnings, and that creates a robust social safety net to ensure North Carolina families can weather emergencies.”
New fact sheets on budget spending during COVID-19
The Budget & Tax Center has released a new set of fact sheets on what it would take to fund some essential needs for N.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what is actually being spent at the moment.
- Education needs that North Carolina should be funding during the pandemic
- Hunger needs that North Carolina should be funding during the pandemic
- Housing needs that North Carolina should be funding during the pandemic
- Health needs that North Carolina should be funding during the pandemic
- Child-care needs that North Carolina should be funding during the pandemic
You can also access these fact sheets at NCJustice.org/statebudget.
The NC Justice Center is a progressive research and advocacy organization whose mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services, and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.