The study examines education, income and workforce data, and profiles innovative efforts to boost mobility in eight communities across the state. It documents the link between education and economic success: While 31% of North Carolinians who attain only a high school degree live in poverty, just 5% of people with a bachelor's degree are in poverty.
Among other findings:
- Upward mobility in 22 of North Carolina's 24 regions called "commuting zones" ranks within the bottom quarter nationally – and Charlotte, Raleigh, Fayetteville and Greensboro rank in the bottom 10 of the nation's 100 largest commuting zones.
- While mobility varies depending on where people live, only about one-third of children born into North Carolina families making less than $25,000 annually manage to climb into middle and upper income levels as adults.
- Latinos and African Americans are more likely than whites to be in poverty and attain lower levels of education, leaving them less prepared for high-skill, well-paying jobs – and those disparities will increasingly affect North Carolina's economy as these populations grow to make up a larger proportion of the population.
- A family of one parent and one child needs an income of $21 an hour to cover basic living expenses in North Carolina, yet only 26 percent of full-time jobs pay median earnings of that amount.