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cover of distressed urban tracts report

This report examines poverty, unemployment, and per capita income at the U.S. Census tract level in North Carolina, updating a 2005 report. This deeper dive into the state’s most distressed areas using tract-level data reveals pockets of extreme distress in the state’s urban areas. Despite the prosperity of their surrounding communities, these urban tracts are even more distressed than their counterparts in rural counties.

Among the report’s findings:

  • 65 percent (106 of 162) of the state’s severely distressed census tracts are located in urban areas.
  • 20 of the 25 most distressed tracts in North Carolina are urban.
  • Per capita income in urban distressed tracts is $1,300 lower than in rural distressed tracts.
  • While urban counties have lower rates of poverty overall, urban distressed tracts experience poverty at a rate that is 10 percent greater than rural distressed tracts.

Revitalizing economically distressed communities is of prime importance to local, state, and national policymakers. In North Carolina, the predominance of rural counties and the widening economic gap between urban and rural areas has prompted state and local officials to focus significant attention and resources on the state’s more rural areas. This report seeks to expand the conversation on economic opportunity and disparity in North Carolina by shedding light on an issue of urban disparity that has been largely hidden from view.

View full report. (PDF)

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