Raleigh, N.C. – According to virtually every socioeconomic measure, North Carolina is worse off than it was in 2001. From job and income growth to poverty and the number of uninsured, North Carolina is slipping further behind regional and national averages, according to a study recently released by the Civitas Institute.
A look at the state’s economic health reveals some disturbing trends:
- North Carolina’s annual unemployment rate is on pace to be higher than the national average for the eighth straight year. By contrast, North Carolina’s annual unemployment rate was higher than the national average only once during the 25 years prior to 2001.
- Per capita income in North Carolina has fallen further behind the national average, dropping from 31st highest in 2001 to 36th highest in 2007.
- North Carolina’s poverty rate has climbed from 12.5 percent in 2001 to 15.5 percent in 2007.
- Child poverty jumped past ten states – rising from the 17th highest rate in 2001 (at 16.4%) to 7th highest in 2007 (at 21%).
- The number of North Carolinians without health insurance also rose. In 2001, 14.4% of North Carolinians lacked health insurance, a rate below the national average. By 2007, that rate had jumped to 17.9% – more than 2 percentage points above the national average.
These negative trends emerged during a time of rapidly escalating state spending and a rising burden on North Carolina taxpayers:
- General Fund spending has shot up a whopping 47% since 2001, a per capita increase of 30 percent.
- North Carolina’s total state debt has more than doubled since 2001.
- State tax collections as a share of income in North Carolina now ranks higher than New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“In sharp contrast to the lofty promises coming from state lawmakers, the results of the tax and spend policies in Raleigh over the past several years have been devastating,” said Brian Balfour, budget and tax policy analyst. “These disappointing results come in spite of a 47 percent increase in state spending and a doubling of state debt. North Carolinians need to begin questioning just how their tax dollars are being spent,” concluded Balfour.
This chart summarizes some of the major findings included in the study:
|North Carolina Economic Indicators||2001||Now
(or most recent data)
|Total State Debt (inflation-adjusted dollars)||$3.65 billion||$6.9 billion|
|State Tax Burden as a Percentage of Income||5.48%||5.98%|
|General Fund Spending Per Capita (inflation-adjusted dollars)||$2,195||$2,308|
|Per Capita Income||31st highest in U.S.||36th highest in U.S.|
|Poverty Rate (overall)||12.5%
U.S. rate: 11.7%
U.S. rate: 12.5%
|Families in Poverty||9.5%
tied, 18th highest in U.S.
5th highest in U.S.
|Child Poverty Rate||16.4%
tied, 17th highest in U.S.
tied, 7th highest in nation
|Overall Uninsured Rate|| 14.4%
U.S. average: 14.6%
U.S. average: 15.8%
|Uninsured Children|| 11.2%
U.S. average: 11.7%
U.S. average: 11%
Urban Intrastate Congestion
|10th most congested||3rd most congested|