NC Ranks Low on Economic Mobility

May 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm 2 comments

A new study from the Pew Center on the States looks at the economic mobility, or the ability to move up  or down the earnings ladder, of residents in each state. The study looked at average earnings, their rank on the earnings ladder compared to peers, and their movement up or down the ladder. The report includes an interactive tool so you can see the results nationally or by region.

The bad news for North Carolina is that we rank as one of the nine states with the worst economic mobility, which means that over the 10 years analyzed, there was a consistent trend toward downward mobility and less toward upward mobility.

One of the key findings of the report is that while geographic mobility– whether people move to different states or stay in their home state– doesn’t impact the overall results for the state, it does have an impact on the individual level. So, people who move to different states have better mobility than those that don’t.

While NC has primarily been known as a state that people are moving to rather than out of, the question really is, what opportunities does the state offer and for who?  What’s going on in rural areas of the state? As the NC Justice Center reports, most of the job growth in NC has happened in the state’s metropolitan regions. 56 percent of the jobs created since February of 2011 were in Charlotte, Raleigh-Cary, and Greensboro-High Point, while only 3.3 percent of job growth occurred in the state’s 26 micropolitan regions. Furthermore, small and medium-sized towns saw an 8.6 percent decrease in their labor force in 2011, compared to a 1.7 percent increase in large cities.

These data show that economic opportunity is not evenly distributed throughout the state. Workers in some areas are moving out to seek opportunities elsewhere, either in other parts of the state or in other states all together. Economic development strategies should take these trends into account, particularly as many of the state’s local economies continue to struggle. Creating healthy urban and rural areas is necessary for a broad-based economic recovery.


Entry filed under: Economic Development. Tags: .

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