'State of Inequality' examines economic issues across NC
Posted March 30
Raleigh, N.C. — Michelle Gethers-Clark became a member of North Carolina's top one percent of earners by virtue of her job as a vice-president at American-Express.
"I could buy a home in the neighborhood I wanted to buy a home in," she said. "My reality was I could vacation where I wanted to vacation. My reality was I could put money in the bank."
But that is not Tasha Hampton's reality. The single mom raising three children in Bertie County makes about $11 per hour.
"When you get your paycheck, it's like it's gone before you even, before you even get the money in your hand," Hampton said. "Just adding up the bills that you have and stuff like that. It's like it's gone."
In North Carolina the average income of the top one-percent of earners is almost $746,000. The average income of the bottom 99 percent is just over $42,000.
James Johnson, an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, blames much of the problem on the public sector's inability to keep up with the private sector's innovation and globalization.
"You know, the world economy today is just so dramatically different from 30 years ago," he said. "It raises the question, well what do you need in your tool kit in order to thrive and prosper in an economy where the new normal is certain uncertainty?"
While Johnson says our education system needs to catch up with that new normal, Gethers-Clark says corporate America may need to help too.
"We need a structure of economic reform that allows everyone to participate in our economic systems, and today that does not happen and people are left out," Gethers-Clark said.
The WRAL Documentary “State of Inequality” addresses those issues. It is hosted by WRAL News anchor David Crabtree.