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Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity Homepage

In the Spotlight

New Census poverty numbers

On September 18, the US Census Bureau released 2013 statistics on a range of state and local measures, including poverty and income. As in most other states, North Carolina's poverty rate (17.9%) was statistically unchanged from 2012. The child poverty rate (25.2%) was also unchanged. Among the largest racial/ethnic groups, Hispanics had the highest poverty rate at 32.5%.

The statewide median household income of $45,906, an 11% decrease from 2007 (in 2013 real dollars), was also statistically unchanged from the previous year.

The percentage of people without health insurance dropped slightly from 16.6 to 15.6.

These figures are from the 2013 American Community Survey one-year estimate, which covers places with more than 65,000 people. Information on smaller places is available in 3- and 5-year surveys, which will come out later this fall.

Forty counties are included in this release. With over 100,000 poor people each, Mecklenburg and Wake Counties had by far the greatest number of people in poverty. Robeson County's 29.7% was the highest rate. In 12 of the 40 counties with available data, over 1 in 5 residents were poor. In 30 out of 40, 1 in 5 children were poor.

Click on any outlined county to get specific poverty and income data. Information on counties with smaller populations will be made available in October and November.

For more information, visit the American FactFinder site or check out the American Community Survey press releases.

NC urban poverty in the news

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 welcomes new research fellow, Allison De Marco

The Poverty Center is delighted that Allison De Marco is joining us as our second research fellow. Dr. De Marco is an Investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and adjunct faculty at the UNC-CH School of Social Work. Her research examines poverty, neighborhood effects, work and family, child care and the well-being of residents of rural communities. She is also interested in asset development in low income communities of color. Read her full bio.

We're thrilled to partner with Dr. De Marco and look forward to supporting and sharing her research, featuring related research and building ties with the School of Social Work.

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.

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