4 of NC’s rural counties among 50 with largest increase in poverty

January 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

The Daily Yonder posted a map last week that shows the unemployment rate in the nation’s rural and exurban counties. Poverty rates have been trending upward, with rural areas experiencing greater poverty rates in 2011 than in 2007. While the national poverty rate increasing went up from 12.9 percent o 15.9 percent during this time, the rural rate went up from 15.8 percent to a staggering 18.3 percent. The urban poverty rate, by comparison, went up from 12.4 percent to 15.6 percent between 2007 and 2011.

The Daily Yonder also posted tables showing the rural counties that had both the largest decline in poverty rates, and those that had the largest increase. Georgia contains the most counties on the list of 50 with the largest increase in poverty. But four North Carolina counties also made the list:

  • Montgomery: 27.3 percent poverty rate, increase of 10.4 percent since 2007
  • Wilkes: 24.5 percent poverty rate, increase of 9.4 percent since 2007
  • Clay: 22.3 percent poverty rate, increase of 8.1 percent since 2007
  • Chowan: 25.1 percent poverty rate, increase of 7.8 percent since 2007

The poverty rates in these areas far exceed the national average as well as the state rate of 17.9 percent. The latest poverty figures from the Census also show huge disparities along racial and ethnic lines as well. In 2011, the poverty rate for African American North Carolinians was 28 percent, reaching as high as 45 percent in places like Brunswick County. The rate for American Indians in the state was 27 percent, while the poverty rate for Latinos almost 35 percent.

These rates are simply unacceptable. It is not possible to advance an economic recovery when so many of our citizens are living below the poverty level. Over a quarter of our state’s children are living in poverty.  These are the communities that need the infrastructure, economic development, and investment to create economic opportunity for future generations. The success of our state will ultimately depend on whether our most underserved and economically challenged areas can be uplifted. Otherwise, we will continue on this lopsided economic path, with some areas prospering and others being left behind.

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