State Economy

JUST RELEASED: Mismatching Money & Jobs - State Business Incentives

North Carolina’s business incentives program, designed to help create jobs, gives short shrift to economic development in the areas that need it most. Money North Carolina spends on incentives to grow businesses and create jobs overwhelmingly favors the state’s most wealthy urban areas at the expense of the state’s most distressed—often rural—areas that need the most help.

For more on state business incentives click here.

IN FOCUS: North Carolina's Broken Economy

As the U.S. marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, many critics point to the persistence of need as evidence that government safety net programs and economic development efforts are ineffective. The opposite is true, however. These strategies have moved millions of Americans out of poverty—but they have been insufficient to deal with an economic transformation that is growing poverty-wage jobs and losing middle-wage ones.

North Carolina’s economy, like the national economy, has undergone a significant transformation from relying on manufacturing to relying on services. As a result, thousands of low-skill jobs that provided a critically important ladder out of poverty and into the middle class for three generations of North Carolinians have disappeared and been replaced with jobs in hospitality, retail sales and other services that pay much less. As a result, the new economy has created thousands of jobs that pay too little to keep full-time workers out of poverty and offer fewer chances to improve their earnings over the course of a lifetime. As a result, household incomes have plummeted over the last decade, and the nation’s economic safety net is all that stands between too many families and destitution.

Read the complete BTC Report here.

ALL-IN ECONOMY: Share your story

We all want to see North Carolina create jobs and experience prosperity that is broadly shared by all of our state’s residents—from the mountains to the coast, from our small towns to our major urban centers. But the goal of prosperity that is broadly shared across the state seems farther away than ever . Despite experiencing modest economic growth in the years since the Great Recession, the benefits of that growth just don’t seem to be reaching many of our communities.

To share a story from your community click here.


For weekly data snapshots on the state of prosperity in North Carolina, visit Prosperity Watch


North Carolina’s economy is not only struggling to rebuild after the Great Recession but also experiencing the effects of a longer-term economic transformation in the industries and jobs that are growing. These broader economic trends and the fiscal decisions made at the state level impact family’s economic hardship and the opportunities available in communities across the state.

Public policy can have a significant impact on North Carolina’s economy. State investments in economic development, workforce development, and job creation can open doors to opportunities for the state’s most struggling communities. However, poorly developed policies can undermine economic growth, exacerbate long-term unemployment, and rob certain groups and geographic areas of economic security.

Poverty, Inequality and the State of Opportunity – 1 in 5 North Carolinians live in poverty and many more struggle to make ends meet. Over time as the economy has grown and transformed so too has inequality and the effects on opportunity for all North Carolinians has been significant in terms of economic mobility and the vibrancy of our middle class. The Budget and Tax Center publishes regular analysis of poverty, inequality and the state of opportunity as well as analyzes proposals that would support North Carolinians struggling today and build greater opportunity for the future.

Economic and Workforce Development – North Carolina’s approach to economic development primarily involves giving millions of dollars in subsidies to already-profitable businesses, and often any new jobs these subsidies create do not benefit economically disadvantaged counties or populations. The Budget and Tax Center publishes analyses of current economic development programs and develops alternative proposals that could create widespread opportunity across the state. This requires as well a strong workforce development system that provides for career pathways in growing industries that pay living wages and it will be increasingly important for North Carolina’s community college system and university to remain affordable and innovative at supporting students young and old into the workforce.

Communities of Opportunity -- Communities across the state are dealing with the significant challenges of population growth, demographic and industry shifts and fewer public dollars to build an infrastructure of opportunity for all. The Budget and Tax Center works to analyze and develop proposals to support equitable development across the state with a particular focus on how transportation, housing and job opportunities are interconnected.

The Labor Market and Economic Growth – The functioning of North Carolina’s labor market is critical to the sound functioning of the state’s economy. The Budget and Tax Center monitors the labor market and other indicators of how the broader economy is faring with an eye to understanding the impact on individual North Carolinians. In addition, the Budget and Tax Center publishes reports on North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system and creates proposals on how North Carolina can better support unemployed workers and increase access to quality jobs.