Wilkes County

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We are pleased to announce the publication of our report on poverty in Wilkes County! Many thanks to our local partners who made this report possible.

The report turns to data and interviews to detail the tough times faced by the county in recent years. Once the headquarters of Lowe's Home Improvement, Lowes Foods, one of North Carolina's largest banks and numerous homegrown manufacturers, Wilkes was hit hard by globalization, economic dislocation and the wrenching effects of two recessions. Between 2000 and 2014, it suffered the second largest drop in median household income in the nation, mostly due to job loss.

More news:

  • NC Policy Watch piece on the Poverty Research Fund, focusing on an overview of the Wilkes report.
  • Gene Nichol op-ed on Wilkes report in local paper, the Journal Patriot.
  • Very thorough article in Wilkes Journal-Patriot, highlighting our presentation of report findings.
  • 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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