NC JUSTICE NEWS: State of Working NC + How Well Do You Know North Carolina? Quiz + Education Cuts

September 5, 2012

STATE OF WORKING NC: Workers lost opportunities during 2000s

Workers are instrumental to North Carolina’s economy as both producers and consumers of goods and services. Yet in advance of Labor Day, a new report found that working families lost significant financial ground and opportunities throughout the 2000s.

How did this happen? The Budget and Tax Center's "State of Working North Carolina 2012" report finds that workers suffered as a result of North Carolina’s economic conditions prior to the Great Recession, the severity of the recession’s impact on the state, and policymakers’ decisions to cut state investments in the tools that could rebuild the economy, such as an educated workforce, sound infrastructure and healthy communities. A dramatic increase in income inequality and the decline of the manufacturing industry also played roles in the well-being of working families.

North Carolina ranked 6th in the nation for most jobs lost since the start of the Great Recession, the report said, and the unemployment rate is still nearly twice pre-recession levels. North Carolina has the 12th highest poverty rate and 12th lowest median household income in the U.S.

Despite this bleak picture, some solutions do exist. Policymakers could focus on creating and maintaining jobs that pay a living wage and provide supports that ensure job stability, such as increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to paid leave. In addition, North Carolina’s leaders could focus on strengthening the state’s unemployment insurance system and support unemployed workers in their job search and retraining. Such policies and sound investments that support workers will help ultimately help strengthen North Carolina's economic recovery.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW NC?: The NC Policy Watch Quiz

The Democratic National Convention starts today in Charlotte and a flood of outsiders from across the U.S. will be arriving in the Tar Heel state.

In anticipation of the big event, NC Policy Watch has put together a quiz to find out just how well you know the Old North State. Whether you're Tar Heel born and bred, a transplant, or are just plain curious about North Carolina's history and present, test your knowledge of North Carolina in this interactive feature. Remember to click the “see how you did!” button to compare your results with others who’ve also taken the quiz.

EDUCATION CUTS: NC 7th worst in U.S. for cuts to funding

In the wake of the first week of school for North Carolina's children — one plagued by transportation disasters and stressful situations for students, teachers and parents alike — it seems clear that the impact of state spending cuts to a range of critical investments will be felt across the state during this upcoming school year.

North Carolina ranks 7th worst in the U.S. in the depth of cuts to school funding since the start of the recession, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach, the state has overly relied on cuts to state services, including education.

Eliminating funding for professional development, reducing the state's investment in NC Pre-K and the diminished number of teachers in the classroom will all undermine our ability to educate North Carolina's children, and put the state's economy and long-term prosperity in jeopardy, the report finds. Good, well-run schools and an educated workforce can make all the difference in fostering economic growth.

The Center’s full report can be found at this link.

HEALTH CARE EVENTS: Meetings in Raleigh, Huntersville

Join the NC Justice Center for two upcoming health care events and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

On Monday, September 17, the NC Council of Churches and NC Justice Center invite you to a special meeting on health care. President Obama’s health care law is being implemented and North Carolina lawmakers will decide whether all adults (ages 18-64) who have annual incomes at less than $15,000 per year will have access to quality, affordable health care through Medicaid. Attend this meeting and join the conversation on how the health care law is currently helping your family, and how access to health care in your community could be improved by expanding Medicaid. The event will be held at the Martin Street Baptist Church at 1001 E. Martin Street in downtown Raleigh from 6:30-8:30 p.m. To reserve your seat, contact Nicole Dozier, 919-856-2146 or or Pamela Sessoms, (919) 833-9756 or

On Thursday, September 27, the NC Justice Center and AARP will host a Campaign for Better Care community meeting. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system, and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and others. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the North Mecklenburg Senior Center, 16601 Old Statesville Road in Huntersville. To reserve your seat, contact the Senior Center at 704-875-1270 or or Nicole Dozier, 919-856-2146 or

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: NC Policy Watch events on state of economy

NC Policy Watch will host two Crucial Conversation luncheons this month on the state of North Carolina's economy.

On Thursday, September 20, Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill will unveil an important new study entitled "Mediating Incentives." Few subjects remain more controversial in modern state-level policy debates than business incentives, but Prof. Lester will look at circumstances in which business incentives can work, when done correctly. The luncheon will be co-sponsored by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. Register here.

Next up: Join NC Policy Watch on Thursday, September 27 for a talk by Kim Bobo, founder and director of the national advocacy organization, Interfaith Worker Justice. Bobo will explain how wage theft and other abuses are robbing many workers of the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled. Register here for this event.

Both events will take place at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.