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Poverty in North Carolina NC Institute of Medicine Prevention Summit Greensboro, NC October 8, 2009 Louisa Warren, NC Justice Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Poverty in North Carolina NC Institute of Medicine Prevention Summit Greensboro, NC October 8, 2009 Louisa Warren, NC Justice Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Poverty in North Carolina NC Institute of Medicine Prevention Summit Greensboro, NC October 8, 2009 Louisa Warren, NC Justice Center

2 Who We Are The North Carolina Justice Center is the state’s leading progressive advocacy and research organization. Our mission is to end poverty in North Carolina by working to ensure that every household has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security. The Justice Center works to improve the lives of low- and moderate- income North Carolinians through five main strategies: Litigation Research & Analysis Advocacy Community Education Communications

3 Our Work The Justice Center is home to a number of well-known specialized projects, including the: NC Budget & Tax Center NC Health Access Coalition Immigrants Legal Assistance Project Poverty Law Litigation Project NC Education & Law Project Learn more at:

4 Presentation Overview Snapshot of Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance stats in NC Who’s poor and how are we defining it Barriers that are keeping people in poverty Proven policies to alleviate poverty

5 Poverty in NC: 2008 Total Poverty NC: 14.6% (16 th highest) (up from 13.1% in 2000) US: 13.2% Child Poverty NC: 19.5% (16 th highest) (up from 18.1% in 2000) US: 17.8% Family Poverty NC: 10.9% (up from 9.6% in 2000) US: 9.7%

6 Change in Poverty Rates:

7 Facts about working poor families 49.1% of poor families work; of those families: 62% have at least one minority parent 32% own their own homes 34% have at least one parent without a HS degree or GED 59% have no parent with postsecondary education

8 Median Household Income: 2008 National = $52,029 North Carolina = $46,549 $692 less than the 2000 median of $47,241 $5,480 below the national median income NC ranks 39 th in median income: Georgia, Florida, and Virginia have higher median incomes Of the 37 NC counties for which there is local data, Wake County highest at $65,180 and Wilkes County lowest $29,705

9 Health & Housing Indicators Health Insurance Coverage: 2007/2008: 15.9% (1 in 6) of North Carolinians were uninsured 2000/2001: 13.4% NC Institute of Medicine estimates that the number of uninsured has increased by 140,000 in 2009 Access to Housing: 37.7% of renter-occupied households in NC paid more than 35% of their incomes in rent

10 Defining who’s poor Standard measure is Federal Poverty Level (FPL): –$22,050: Four-person family in 2009 We use an alternative—the Living Income Standard (LIS): an estimate of how much income families with children need to pay market prices for a bundle of basic goods and services Advantages of the LIS include: its reliance upon actual cost data, geographic specificity, and inclusion of goods and services (such as childcare, transportation) in calculation that FPL does not NC LIS (statewide average) = $41,184 for family of four (2008)

11 LIS Family Budgets

12 Why are people poor and struggling to make ends meet? Most families below the LIS work Typical family holds the equivalent of 1.2 full-time jobs Big Issue is a disconnect between work and wages 24% of working adults earn less than $9.12/ hour Low-wage jobs less likely to offer benefits and mobility Erosion of workplace benefits (health care, pensions) Low wages mean less access to quality housing, child care, transportation to jobs

13 Bridging the Gap Work supports play a critical role in boosting incomes of low-income families Expanding access to basics as housing, child care, food, and good jobs is key Short-term: policies that boost incomes and ensure basic needs are met Long-term: improving job quality and expanding supply of skilled workers

14 NC’s Hardship Gap before and after work supports

15 Strategies to Boost Incomes Increasing State Earned Income Tax Credit Strengthening Wages: increasing minimum wage and indexing to inflation Expanding critical work supports and core services: –Child care subsidies –Children’s health insurance/Medicaid –Food stamps –Unemployment insurance

16 Expanding Access to Affordable Housing More than 600,000 low-income N.C. households pay more than 30% of their income on housing. At least another 150,000 N.C. households live in housing that is in serious disrepair or is overcrowded. 20,000 N.C. homes still lack indoor plumbing. Lack of access to basic public services and affordable utilities is a huge problem in many communities – particularly low income communities. Need more investments in NC Housing Trust Fund Examine feasibility of new policies to aid low-income utility consumers and promote access to services (e.g. expanded shut- off protections, rate discounts for low-income customers, and annexation reform).

17 Workforce Development Growing gap between supply and demand of skilled workers 48% of NC adults have no more than a H.S. diploma Gap between labor market realities and educational policies Most innovative efforts are focused on children, not adults –2/3 of the 2020 workforce already is working, as is 45% of 2030 workforce Higher education policy dominated by university issues Need a better focus on the educational needs of adults Reforms to need-based financial aid policies Programmatic efforts to link training with labor market payoffs More emphasis on basic adult education

18 Contact Information Louisa Warren Policy Advocate NC Justice Center Ph: (919)


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