I was just browsing NC Policy Watch's website and came across this study by the NC Budget & Tax Center (PDF). I'll post a few facts and figures below the fold, but the quick summary is that North Carolinians aren't getting any richer while the world around us gets more expensive.
- Half of all NC full time workers in 2000 made less than $24,246. Half of all NC full time workers in 2004 made less than... $24,246.
- What would you do with $2,800? Don't think too hard, because chances are you don't have it to spare. The median household income fell $2,806 between 2000 and 2004. That's a drop from 91.4% of the national average to 88.5%. I guess our $2,800 is off in some other state.
- The percentage of North Carolinians living in poverty rose from 13.2 to 15.1 between 2000 and 2004. 15.1% is about one in every seven people. With about 8 million people living in the state, 15.1% is about 1.2 million people. By comparison, the entire combined population of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point is about 1.3 million people.
- 14.9% of families with children under the age of five years lived in poverty in 2000. In 2004 it was 21.2%. One of every five children under the age of 18 lives in poverty.
- 14.1% of North Carolinians had no health insurance in 2000. By 2004, another 2.4% joined that group.
- The average man in North Carolina earns less than his counterparts in each of the other southeastern states; the average woman fares better than only those in West Virginia and South Carolina.
There is also data suggesting that Raleigh is doing unusually well, with a median household income near $50,000. On the whole, however, North Carolinians are worse off than they were in 2000, and "the data suggest that recent trends are not temporary ones caused by the last recession." What does all this mean? I'm no economist, but it seems to me that in times like these, we desperately need a government that is tuned in to the concerns of the working class. The rich, I'm sure, will take care of themselves.