This week we got more evidence that North Carolina’s economy is just not working for everyone. PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) just published their National Equity Atlas. The Atlas provides actual and projected data on “demographic change, racial inclusion, and the economic benefits of equity for the largest 150 regions, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States.” Here’s what their research found about North Carolina.

North Carolina 

  • Right now, 65 percent of North Carolina residents are white, while 35 percent are people of color. By 2040, 47.7 percent of North Carolinians will be people of color. The Latino population has grown the most in the last 10 years, with a growth rate of over 110 percent. By contrast, the white population only grew by 10 percent.
  • Since 1979, full time workers in the lowest 10th percentile have seen their income fall by 3 percent. Full-time workers in the highest 10th percentile have grown their income by nearly 30 percent.
    Source: National Equity Atlas, PolicyLink
    Source: National Equity Atlas, PolicyLink
  • North Carolina’s racial wage gap hasn’t narrowed in the last 30+ years. In 1980, white workers made a median hourly wage of $17, while black workers earned $13. In 2012, those wages have increased to $19 and $14 respectively, so the gap has actually widened by a dollar. That $5 gap adds up to $200 in a 40-hour work week, or $10,400 a year.

“In 2012, the [North Carolina] economy would have been $63.53 billion larger if there had been no racial gaps in income.”

  • By 2020, 42 of North Carolina jobs will require at least an Associate’s degree. Of the U.S.-born NC residents, 43 percent of whites, 26 percent of African Americans, 32 percent of Latinos, and 59 percent of Asian Americans currently hold an Associate’s degree or higher.

 If this pervasive inequity continues, a growing segment of the North Carolina population – low-income workers and people of color – will remain economically vulnerable, while a shrinking segment will continue amassing disproportionate wealth. And as long as that’s true, North Carolina’s economy will keep failing to meet its full economic potential. 

Click here to explore the National Equity Atlas.