Local News

Poverty rate soars in Raleigh, other NC metros

Posted August 13, 2014

— The number of Raleigh residents living in poverty almost doubled from 2000 to 2012, according to an analysis of census data by Brookings Institution.

Raleigh's 97 percent increase placed it third nationally for poverty growth, behind only Cape Coral, Fla., and Boise, Idaho. Charlotte tied Raleigh for third on the list, while Winston-Salem tied for eighth, with an 82 percent increase, and Greensboro tied for 10th, with a 77 percent increase.

"I think now the numbers are staggering," said Regina Brooks, who works daily with struggling clients at the Women's Center of Wake County.

More than 16 percent of Raleigh's population is now in poverty. The Brookings report said an average of 130,242 residents were in poverty between 2008 and 2012, up from 66,177 in 2000.

Brooks said she isn't surprised by Raleigh's growing population in poverty, noting many people left jobs in other states to move to Triangle, which numerous magazines touted as one of the best places to live and work in the U.S.

"Raleigh, Wake County, Cary, this is the place to live, so that stayed with her," Brooks said, recounting the story of one of her clients. "That was in her spirit, and that's what said to her, 'I'm going to Raleigh.'"

Many of the transplants don't have the means to start over.

Jean Williams of the Women's Center of Wake County said she has gotten calls from people seeking help with lining up a shelter for housing so they can move to Raleigh in search of work.

Planning for population growth must include services to help lift people out of poverty, Williams said, noting that the commitment to those services simply hasn't kept up with demand in recent years.

Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography, a service of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the flood of poor residents doesn't just flow from out of state.

"Rural counties, where there are fewer jobs and educational opportunities, are losing young individuals to urban centers, where there are more jobs and more opportunities," Tippett said.

In addition to population growth, observers said, the nationwide recession pushed more people into poverty while also keeping others from climbing out of it.

"People who were clearly middle income have found themselves plummeting down to poverty level," Williams said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Bill Mooney Aug 14, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yes, Obama and Clinton are doing very well. Why would that negate their argument? They aren't arguing that they should pay less in taxes. I think someone like Warren Buffet who makes an economic argument that is clearly NOT self-serving is more trustworthy than an economic argument from someone like Donald Trump. But I understand that many on the right can't fathom someone who would put the good of the country above adding further to their great wealth.

  • ncouterbanks69 Aug 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Bingo....and your way keeps you from paying 10 years of monthly payments like I did! The point is that it CAN be done and ANYONE can do it......it just takes hard work which deters a lot of people because they believe others owe them a living.

  • TheCape Aug 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I agree with that. I decided to serve in the Army instead of getting a loan (contract is up this coming May and I have loved it). There are also scholarships, taking less courses at a time, community college to get the gen eds out of the way, doing school via corespondence, and if you want to get certificates you can get a good deal of assistance from your library with either their internet services or using their books for studying.

  • TheCape Aug 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I don't see that everyone who is poor could be well off, but I do feel that the current number of the poor is not entirely there because they have to be. If we restructured systems that enabled poor choices, it might help improve at least a few lives by forcing them to get up and do something more with their lives.

    Not going to work for everyone, and we should support those people who genuinely cannot help themseleves.

  • ncouterbanks69 Aug 14, 2014

    "And please, don't go there with the "go back to school and get an education for a better job" routine. You are in fact then encouraging going 10's of thousands of dollars in debt for something that absolutely guarantees nothing except in an extremely limited number of fields."

    I see where you are coming from except for you saying "most" of the "poor" are like that. We disagree big time on that but I certainly acknowledge that SOME are certainly like that.

    As far as the school that is simply not true. I went tens of thousands of dollars in debt to go to school worked hard and paid back my loan. ANYONE can do it most simply do not want to put in that effort. That is what most on the right have a problem with......the lack of a work ethic and the lack of personal responsibility.

  • Grand Union Aug 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    What excuses did I make? Do you really assert that EVERYONE who is poor could really be well off? Could you tell us where in space and time that has ever happened? Its a simple fact there will always be a number of the poor, there was in the so called "gilded" era when there was essentially zero welfare and there is today with what is by any standards pretty minimal welfare. This idea that the poor are all their by choice and that somehow they could all just pull themselves up by their bootstraps is utterly absurd. Almost all the rich came from rich families, almost all the well off came from well off families (I certainly did), almost all the middle class came from middle class families and almost all the poor were born poor. Yes a few, a very few move up or down but they are the exception rather than the rule and always have been.
    The odds are if you are not poor, it just through an accident of birth.

  • TheCape Aug 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I mentioned that as raising the minimum wage seems to be the only idea coming out from the left.

    Another source by the way: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/06/12/seattle-biz-tacks-living-wage-surcharge-onto-receipts-in-response-to-15hour-minimum-wage/

    And while the immigration problem did not start under Obama, its sure been made a good deal worse recently.

  • dlnorri Aug 14, 2014

    THe story is skewing statistice and ignoring reality. The areas population growth in the period was well over 50%; most the suburbs do not allow or support poor people (very little public or subsidized housing), hence the group concentrates in Raleigh which has abundant public and subisdized housing.... It completely ingnores the realitiy of illegals that make a good chunck of the impoverished and also take away job opportunities from citizens that might otherwise be able to escape poverty.

  • Lorna Schuler Aug 14, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I don't agree with Grand Union on many things.... rarely. But! In this case he is absolutely correct in his/her assessment. I believe in working for my needs and wants. And will work hard for those.

    I also have been in the shoes of the working poor. Busting tail every single day to just survive with the very basic necessities. Most of the poor do in fact work. And please, don't go there with the "go back to school and get an education for a better job" routine. You are in fact then encouraging going 10's of thousands of dollars in debt for something that absolutely guarantees nothing except in an extremely limited number of fields.

  • ncouterbanks69 Aug 14, 2014

    "And somehow there seems to be this myth on the Right that EVERYONE could be well off if they just only tried......how could that be possible??? There simply are not enough well paid jobs out there or opportunities no matter how brilliant and enterprising they are...."

    Nice list of excuses. I suppose it is easier to make exucses and blame someones situation on others as opposed to taking personal responsibility for their own actions. Yep....that is much easier.