Economic indicators of well-being should inform policy priorities across NC

Today, the NC Budget & Tax Center published our Economic County Snapshots for 2024. Released each year, these snapshots provide at-a-glance information on a variety of economic indicators for every county in North Carolina.

Why do these indicators matter for the economy?

People drive our economy. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this economic fact became self-evident. Low-wage workers were acknowledged as “essential.” Government mobilized to safeguard health insurance coverage and secure paid leave for workers coping with illness. Access to housing was deemed critical for public health, and rental assistance soared while evictions plummeted. In short, a moment of widespread crisis prompted elected leaders to stabilize conditions by targeting public dollars to the foundations of our economy: the well-being of our people.

Four years later, people’s well-being is still our most valuable economic resource, despite a state context in which legislative leaders continue to put community needs last. NC BTC’s Economic County Snapshots seek to more robustly and accurately evaluate economic conditions across the state by compiling a variety of indicators that measure North Carolinians’ well-being. Indicators are grouped into six categories: 1) Poverty and Economic Hardship, 2) Employment, 3) Educational Attainment, 4) Income and Ability to Afford the Basics, 5) Access to Affordable Housing, and 6) Healthy Lives and Communities. (Read the full methodology for producing the snapshots.)

We know that our state and local economies thrive when every North Carolinian – Black, white, and brown – is empowered to reach their potential and contribute their talents to our communities. The Economic County Snapshots are a tool for communities to inform local priorities, craft solutions, and pursue action.

How can I use these snapshots?

The 2024 Economic County Snapshots are a resource for North Carolinians seeking to address economic well-being in their community. Local organizations, advocates, community members, or leaders can start by downloading the PDF of their county for a deep dive into local economic conditions. If the percentage of cost-burdened renters stands out as an issue of concern, for example, users can then navigate to the interactive charts to see how their county compares to others across the state. Data from these snapshots can be used to make the case for the resources our communities need, from grant applications to local and state budget advocacy. Our hope is to equip communities with information about their local context and empower more of us to engage with elected leaders on the policy solutions that can move the needle for people’s well-being.

How can I learn more or get engaged with this work?

If you have questions about the County Snapshots or would like to learn more about this research product, please email [email protected].