The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

December 3, 2009

Edgecombe one of N.C.'s poorest places

Edgecombe County is one of 18 counties in North Carolina with more than 20 percent of its population in a state of poverty.

The N.C. Justice Center’s statistics show Edgecombe County with a 22.9 percent poverty rate, the 12th highest percentage in the state. The highest percentage of its population living in poverty is in Robeson County, with 30.8 percent of its people living in those conditions.

Within the past year, Edgecombe’s already high unemployment rate rose even higher, up to 17 percent in October from 11.6 percent back in October 2008. The state’s unemployment rate shot up 4 percent over the same period, up to 11 percent.

Statewide, the Justice Center showed that 14.6 percent of the state’s population, 1.3 million, lived in poverty in 2008.

With Edgecombe County having a majority black population, the Justice Center also showed a much higher poverty level among blacks and Hispanics compared to the white population.

Nearly a quarter of the state’s black residents, 24.3 percent, and more than a quarter of its Hispanic residents, 28.2 percent, lived in poverty as of October 2008; a total of 645,428 people out of a statewide population of 9.2 million. Of the state’s white population, 9.8 percent of them were living in poverty; 589,509 residents.

Along with Edgecombe, neighboring Pitt and Wilson counties had poverty rates greater than 20 percent, at 22.2 and 22.7 percent, respectively. But income levels for Pitt and Wilson residents were more favorable than those for Edgecombe residents, comparing the counties’ median household income to a “living income standard” used by the Justice Center. That living income standard accounted for a household with two adults and two children.

In Edgecombe, the median income for residents in 2008 was $31,775, compared to a living income standard at $40,153. The median income in Wilson was $38,004 with its living standard at $41,228, while in Pitt the median income was $40,025 with the living standard at $39,424.

Median income is where 50 percent of residents have an income higher than that number, as well as 50 percent of residents with an income lower than the number.

Edgecombe also saw nearly 1,700 more people receiving Food and Nutrition (Food Stamps) assistance in the past year. There were 14,629 people receiving Food Stamps in October, compared to 12,950 people receiving them one year earlier.

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