Tag Archives: income disparity

If You’re a Poor Kid in Forsyth County Then You’re Screwed

According to a recently released report Forsyth County, NC is the second worst county in the United States when it comes to income mobility for poor children. From the report in the New York Times:

Forsyth County is extremely bad for income mobility for children in poor families. It is among the worst counties in the U.S.

Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Winston-Salem area, it’s better to be in Davie County than in Yadkin County or Forsyth County. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Davie, the better you will do on average.

Every year a poor child spends in Davie County adds about $40 to his or her annual household income at age 26, compared with a childhood spent in the average American county. Over the course of a full childhood, which is up to age 20 for the purposes of this analysis, the difference adds up to about $800, or 3 percent, more in average income as a young adult…

It’s  among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder. It ranks 2nd out of 2,478 counties, better than almost no county in the nation.

Take a look at this graphic and you can see that there’s a huge disparity between the prospects for poor kids and rich kids in the county:

Source NYtimes.com

Source NYtimes.com

Forsyth’s neighbor to the east, Guilford County, isn’t much better off:

It’s among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder. It ranks 37th out of 2,478 counties, better than only about 1 percent of counties.

While it would be easy to say, “This should be a wake up call to the leaders of our community” I think that would be a cop out. This is the kind of thing that should concern us all because what do we think will eventually happen if we continue to allow a huge segment of our community to live in circumstances in which they perceive little chance of improving their lot in life? What do we think these young people will do when they lose hope?

So yeah, our elected leaders should view this as an early warning that they need to address these underlying causes of this disparity in opportunity, but this is bigger than them. All of us need to get engaged, through our schools, churches, civic groups, businesses and neighborhoods, in order to begin to make any progress in improving the prospects for our kids’ futures. The underlying issues are systemic – broken family structures, poor educational attainment, too many low wage jobs, etc. – and only a concerted effort by the entire community will be able to address them. If we don’t we will have much larger problems on our hands in years to come.

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have made a great deal of progress in addressing the major economic challenges that were wrought by the declines of the local manufacturing industries, highlighted by the resurgence of downtown Winston-Salem, but now we need to make sure that the tide rises for everyone, not just those lucky enough to be born into well off families.

Captain Obvious Announcement: The Rich Get Richer

Updated numbers show that in America the very wealthy got very wealthier during the last decade:

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report over the weekend showing that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. The CBPP concluded that the data suggests greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928.

Check out the chart here for a little visual of what they're talking about.

Later on they point out that the numbers only cover up to 2007 so the Great Recession probably knocked the super wealthy down a peg, but I seriously doubt it put much more than a dent in the disparity.

One of the common arguments I hear about taxes, especially when the topic is progressive tax structures (i.e. higher tax rates on the wealthy) is that the wealthy pay more in tax dollars than the rest of us.  I find that argument pretty lame because in my mind the most important number is the net, not the gross, and as you can see from the numbers above the net income of the super wealthy, that is their income after taxes, has grown at a much higher rate than everyone else.  That means that even if they are paying a higher tax rate, and that's a big if (see this for a look at how the effective tax rate on the super wealthy is less than you'd think), their real net income gains have still far outpaced those of us who live here below the income stratosphere.  As your average middle classer I find that troubling.

Countdown to someone calling me a socialist: 10, 9, 8, 7…