Indy Week

More Than 700K N.C. Residents Live in Deep Poverty

Jeffrey C. Billman Feb 8, 2018 9:03 AM
This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

A new analysis from NC Policy Watch shows that more than 7 percent of North Carolina households—an estimated 725,000 residents—live in what’s known as deep poverty, meaning they earn 50 percent or less of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s $12,300 a year, or $8 per person per day. These rates are highest in Watauga and Scotland counties, where nearly one-fifth of households are in deep poverty.

WHAT IT MEANS: As NC Policy Watch notes, most of the deeply impoverished survive off of food stamps. Cash-assistance programs, including Aid to Families with Dependent Children and the state Earned Income Tax Credit, have fallen out of favor. The good news is that the poverty rate—and the deep poverty rate—seems to be declining as the economy does. The bad news is that seven hundred thousand people are barely scraping by, if that, and the state and federal governments have more or less turned their backs on them over the last two decades.