Wilkes County

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Located in northwestern North Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wilkes is a large, rural county. Its population of just under 70,000 is dispersed throughout the county in small towns and hamlets. Once the headquarters of Lowe's Home Improvement, Lowes Foods, one of North Carolina's largest banks and numerous homegrown manufacturers, Wilkes in recent years has struggled. Between 2000 and 2014, it suffered the second largest drop in median household income in the nation, mostly due to job loss.

  • PBS NewsHour, after interviewing Gene Nichol, went to Wilkes for its piece on the invisibility of poverty in national politics.
  • Zach Galifianakis (yes, the actor) is from Wilkes County. In March 2017, he hosted a screening of "Democracy for Sale," part of his series on inequality in America. Gene Nichol participated in the panel discussion.
  • In May, we attended a forum on housing and homelessness in Wilkes County and provided an overview of poverty in the county. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot also ran an article about our upcoming report on Wilkes.

Wilkes County


Source: 2015 ACS 5-Year Estimates
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106 | Accessibility


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