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Placebook: Is North Carolina a Poor State?

Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank

A lot of this money is foreign. Is money period foreign to North Carolinians? Photo by Flickr user Ep5os De

I ask today’s question about this New York Times article. As usual with Times articles, they take a major national issue, in this case poverty and use one place to illustrate it, this time, Chattanooga, TN. It’s a place that’s on the urbanist radar too, as this year’s class of Next City Vanguards will be gathering there, and it’s the first Vanguard in the South. According to the Census 23% of its 171,279 residents are impoverished. What really stuck with me, was this quote from Chattanooga’s mayor Andy Berke:

“We don’t want the South to be a place where businesses go to find low-wage, low-education jobs. That’s a long-term problem that midsized cities in the South face.”

How does North Carolina fit into this? As a whole, the state has 1,6377,250  of its 9,748,364 people under the federal poverty line and the median household income is $46,000. Our unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7% and that is inclusive of people who are still looking for work and haven’t quit. When you pull the numbers for several major North Carolina cities from the Census, none of them have per capita incomes at the poverty rate and half the households are making more than $30,000 per year. Of course this assumes that households have no more than 3 people in them. Even with the traditional four-person family, only three cities, Jacksonville, Rocky Mount and Wilson have a per capita income that meets the poverty threshold. The more people you add, plus expenses that aren’t adjusted for inflation, emergency situations such as a period of unemployment, an underwater mortgage or some other tragic or financially trying situation can create poverty-like situations. However, on paper, based on the this assessment of the 2 million people in these major cities North Carolina looks middle class, taking into account our lower cost of living, cost of living being things like the basic costs of food and housing, along with taxes and utility bills.  Yet, what about the other 7 million people? Our cities may not be poor, but what about everywhere else? For more analysis head here, where you can see charts and where you can track updates to this information.

In addition, the above quote could be said about my hometown and current city Greensboro. We’ve lost a number of manufacturing jobs. Yet, we have also managed to create jobs. The key is to get people above the poverty threshold and provide the stability for them to stay there. It’s also key that we provide jobs at living wages. It appears some cities are doing more than others if you go by the numbers. However, numbers, nor metaphors and proverbs can begin to tell this whole story.

And with that, your daily news:

Tonight’s Greensboro City Council Agenda. On the agenda, a solar car charging station for downtown.

Guilford and Durham school systems have officially filed suit with the State of North Carolina over the teacher tenure law.

Residents of the Dixie Apartments in Greensboro will lose their homes for a new development on that block.

Several local leaders, as well as representatives from Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and the North Carolina Railroad Company met in Greensboro yesterday to discuss how to keep people off railroad tracks.

The last winter storm claimed a 76 foot oak tree in Greensboro that had been standing since the Civil War.

State troopers have sued for higher pay.

High Point is offering free rent for a retail business for a year in its train depot.

The first Latino Mecklenburg County Commissioner has died.

Attendees of an open government forum at Elon University charge that state lawmakers have not been transparent enough.

Charlotte’s first outlet mall will open on July 31.

Charlotte-Douglas Airport has opened a diagonal runway.

Asheville’s water systems issue is the latest in several attempts by the state to take local control of normally local matters.

The Enka-Chandler fire department has a new chief.

A proposed adult care home in Asheville is looking for a new location.

More on the proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville.

Fayetteville City Council is proposing a new office to streamline business license filings and other issues related to the city and businesses.

What the Harnett County commissioners decided last night.

The Brunswick County commissioners voted last night to keep their current health insurance plans and pay the extra costs.

More Willmington area grocers are allowing customers to shop online and pick up at the store or have it delivered.

Greenville City Council discussed financing renovations to its convention center at their meeting last night.

How to avoid paying to park at Raleigh’s PNC Arena.

Cary held it’s annual Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, as well as sent a laundry list of issues to state lawmakers.

Long-time business owners on Durham’s 9th Street are excited and anxious about all the new development on the street.

And finally, Durham City Council voted on Monday on a downtown business incentive deal.

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