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The New Poor in North Carolina



April 2, 2012

STATESVILLE, N.C. - Like thousands of people in North Carolina, Russell Brown never expected to be facing poverty or losing his home. A single father, Brown had a good job and bought his first house in March of 2009. Six months later, he was laid off, and for the first time in his life found himself having to ask for help to save his house and provide for his daughter.

"It was a very humbling experience. When you've been a person that's been independent all your life and you never really had to ask for help, and for me, I really didn't know where to go, 'cause I've never been in that position before."

The increasing number of "newly poor" in North Carolina contributes to the fact that areas of concentrated poverty have more than doubled since 2000 in the state. Researchers say that areas of the state where entire communities are facing poverty present additional challenges in the form of demand for services and increased competition for jobs.

Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the Budget and Tax Center, which recently published data from the U.S. Census about the increase in areas of concentrated poverty.

"For folks who have worked their entire life to suddenly face a labor market, where there just aren't enough jobs out there for the people who want to work, is demoralizing."

Sirota identified 100 areas of concentrated poverty in the state. Those areas are located in 30 of the state's 100 counties, with the largest share located in Guilford and Mecklenberg counties.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC
 

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