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Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity Homepage


NC Urban Poverty in National Spotlight

North Carolina has recently received national and regional attention for its surging poverty rates, especially in its cities.

  • According to the Brookings Institution, in the past decade, Greensboro, Charlotte and Winston-Salem had among the highest increases of population in high poverty neighborhoods in country (ranking third, sixth and seventh respectively). The same study found that Raleigh and Charlotte had the third and fourth highest increases in their poor populations (Winston-Salem was 11th, Greensboro 17th).
  • Raj Chetty at Harvard and colleagues at the National Bureau of Economic Research detailed how geographic place affects intergenerational economic mobility - the chances of children climbing or sliding down the economic ladder compared to their parents. Chetty's research revealed that mobility is severely hindered in southern states. Of the 50 largest commuting zones in the US, Charlotte and Raleigh came in last and third to last. (The NY Times created an interactive map illustrating Chetty's findings.)
  • Another report by the UNC Center for Regional and Urban Studies found a similar increase in poverty and other measures of distress, particularly in North Carolina's urban areas.
  • Since the recession, North Carolina's hunger rates have surged. The US Department of Agriculture reports that the state has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity in the country. And Greensboro and Asheville are among the top 10 cities for food hardship.

These and similar stories and studies have been covered by the press, including pieces in Business Insider, the News and Record, and the Charlotte Observer. As a result, Charlotte is forming a poverty task force and Raleigh's mayor called for a series of poverty summits to be attended by the mayors of the state's largest cities.

The Poverty Center is delving deeply into urban poverty and will continue to cover and examine this critical issue.

Poverty Center releases Poverty Curriculum

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity is pleased to release a high school curriculum about poverty in America. The curriculum was designed by Brian McDonald, a teacher at Jordan High School in Durham, North Carolina, for use with high school students.

The units can be used as a group to make up the foundation for a stand-alone class on poverty, or can be introduced as smaller lessons within other courses.

"Seeing the Invisible" Series available for Kindle

The entirety of our "Seeing the Invisible" series, which spotlighted different poverty-related issues in our state last year in the News and Observer, is now available for Kindle. It is a great way to re-read the series on the go or to give the gift of poverty awareness to someone else for under four dollars.

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106

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