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All of the following statistics, unless otherwise noted, are from U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey.

The poverty rate for the United States as a whole was 15.9%.

North Carolina’s poverty rate for the year of 2012 was 18%, higher than the country’s rate as a whole and continuation of the steady increase in poverty since 2007.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
15.1 14.7 14.3 14.6 16.3 17.5 17.9 18%
Source: American Community Survey 1-year estimates 2005 - 2012

The poverty rates varied greatly across race in 2012. Additionally, the amount by which poverty increased varied across race between 2007 and 2012.

Poverty rate by race, 2007 and 2012
Poverty rate by race: 2007 and 2012

Map of Poverty by NC County

Source: 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

Median Family Income/Household Income, Race, and Gender

Though Median Family Income for the entire state is almost back to 2007 levels, there are some groups who have seen their family incomes drop with no recovery in sight.

Latino Median Family Income has fallen from $35,540 in 2007 to $31,779 in 2012.

Median Household Income for American Indians has plummeted from 30,175 in 2007 to 26,752 in 2012.

Women and minorities are still making less money even when employed full-time.

2012 Median Income, Full Time/Year-Round Workers

  • White Men: $45,521
  • White Women: $36,603
  • Black Men: $33,433
  • Black Women: $30,146
  • American Indian Men: $35,918
  • American Indian Women: $27,939
  • Latino Men: $25,514
  • Latina Women: $22,906

The Poorest are our Youngest – Particularly if they are Black, Latino, or American Indian

The poorest Tar Heels continue to be our youngest Tar Heels. Here are the rates of poverty for young people below 18 in our state by race and compared to pre-recession levels:

  • 40% for African American youth, compared to 34.2% in 2007
  • 43.6% of Hispanic/Latino youth, compared to 31.6% in 2007
  • 44.1% for American Indian youth, 33.2% in 2007
  • 18.8% for White youth, compared to 12.2% in 2007

For "related children under 5" years of age, the numbers are even more staggering:

Poverty Rate for Children, by Race and Compared to 2007 Levels:

  • 22.2% of White children, was 13.5% in 2007
  • 47.1% of Black children, 40.2% in 2007
  • 53.2% of American Indian children, 36.9% in 2007
  • 46.5% of Latino children, 34.7% in 2007

Generations of children in North Carolina will be faced with the challenge of growing up poor.

Though the Median Family Income as a whole didn’t change, a greater proportion of NC families are living on very low incomes than before the recession started.

Five years ago, 16% of all NC families of all sizes lived with total incomes below $25,000.

In 2012, that number grew to 19.5%.

Five years ago, 4.7% of all NC families of all sizes lived with incomes below $10,000.

In 2012, that number grew to 6%. 

Map of Median Income and Other Socioeconomic Measures

Source: 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
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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