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LEADERSHIP

  Jason Gray 1By Jason Gray

  Senior Fellow

  Research & Policy

 

The health of individuals, communities, and their local economies are tightly woven. This knowledge drives the theme for the 2016 Rural Assembly:  Growing Better Together: Rural Health and Economic Development.

 

Here is our monthly data visualization that makes a simple case for why this intersection between health and economic development is so important. We begin with data from the 2016 County Health Rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We encourage you to go to their website to explore your own county’s data to see you your county ranks.  The Foundation is widely respected for this national analysis that is updated annually.

 

The map below classifies the 80 rural county rankings into quartiles, meaning the counties are ranked and divided into four groups of 20. The 1st Quartile has the 20 counties with the lowest health ranking scores, the 4th Quartile has the 20 counties with the highest health ranking scores. We’ve included the 20 Urban and Regional City/Suburban counties as their own separate classification.

 

As we have pointed out in our past data visualizations, our most economically distressed rural counties tend to cluster into two general regions – several counties in northeastern North Carolina and several counties in the southeastern/south central sandhills area near the North Carolina/South Carolina border.  As you can see, the 1st Quartile of the County Health Rankings follows this pattern and reflects many of the counties in these two regions.

 

What are the income patterns associated with these health rankings? In the graphs below and to the right of the map we have two different sources of income. The top graph is the U.S. Census Bureau’s Median Household Income (MHI). This builds on the MHI data we shared last month. As you can see, MHI levels are closely correlated with where a county ranks among the health quartiles. 

 

The bottom graph displays income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis – a research division within the United States Department of Commerce. It is insightful because per capita personal income (total county income divided by total county population) is divided into three streams:

 

·         Per capita net earnings – earnings by place of work plus the adjustment for residence

·         Personal Transfer Receipts – this includes Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and unemployment insurance benefits

·         Dividends, interest and rent – consists of personal dividend income, personal interest income, and rental income

 

You can select which income stream you want to see from the pull down menu just below the graph title: “2014 Personal Income Components by Health Quartiles.”  By scrolling over the map, the BEA data for individual counties is also displayed.

 

Average per capita personal income shows some association with the health quartiles, but the connection is not as strong as with MHI. Why the slight increase in the 2nd quartile over the 3rd Quartile? We believe 2rd Quartile Counties Wayne, Duplin, Sampson, Beaufort and Wilson have per capital personal income over $35,000, but generally poorer health rankings – this nudges the quartiles income data up a bit. This is also seen in the per capita net earnings visual.

 

Transfer Receipts have an inverse relation to the quartiles. They are highest in the 1st quartile counties that have the worst health metrics. These counties have older populations, so there is more per capita Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments.

 

Finally, Dividends, Interest and Rent data shows that higher dollar values result generally in improved health metrics. The Dividends, Interest and Rent value for the 4th quartile counties (highest health rankings) is higher than the urban and regional city/suburban counties. Why is that? The 4th quartile rural counties attracting relatively high wealth retirees: Moore, Polk, Carteret and Dare counties, all with over $10,000 per capita in this category.

 

All this only hints at the complex relationship between personal health and economic well being and between community health and economic prosperity. We’ll explore this more at the 2016 Rural Assembly. Haven’t registered yet? You can do so here. We look forward to seeing you!

Link to Tableau Visuals:
https://public.tableau.com/profile/publish/HealthRankingsLivingWage/Dashboard1#!/publish-confirm

 

 

Bridge Loan Program Assisting Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

dixoncombined       

Derria and Barry Dixon (left) are working to recover from flood Damage at the offices of Dixon Social Interactive Services in Kinston (right).

The Rural Center made the first loan from the N.C. Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to Derria and Barry Dixon of Dixon Social Interactive Services. Dixon Social Interactive Services is a provider for Mental and Behavioral Health offering counseling, day treatment, and therapy to individuals as well as families with offices in Greenville, Kinston, New Bern, and Rocky Mount.

The Dixons were shocked to return to their office in Kinston after Hurricane Matthew to find it flooded with almost a foot of water and most of its contents destroyed. The Dixons saw information about the Emergency Bridge Loan Program posted from MCO Eastpointe, a company that works with communities and the behavioral healthcare system. Derria and Barry applied and were approved a loan to help them get back on their feet quickly. When the hurricane hit, they had to cease operations, but because of this loan they were able to start back up while waiting for their insurance provider to cover damages. “This was our first time working with the Rural Center and it has been a beyond pleasant experience from the quickness in addressing the need our community had, to approving the loan. We are grateful,” said Derria Dixon.

The Rural Center launched the N.C. Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program on October 27th, and so far has made 8 loans for a total of $120,000 to small businesses affected by Hurricane Matthew. The loans have helped the businesses retain 72 full-time and 34 part-time jobs in Chowan, Columbus, Cumberland,Lenoir and Robeson counties. The Bridge Loan Program is a partnership of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), and the Community College Small Business Center Network. The program has raised over $2.6 million from funders including the Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C.'s Electric Cooperatives, BB&T, PNC and Wells Fargo.

For more information or to find a program office, visit : www.sbtdc.org/hurricanematthew.
To apply, visit : www.ncruralcenter.org/hurricanematthew.

 

Jeff-Sural1By Jeff Sural
Guest Columnist

 

In Beaufort County just outside of Chocowinity, farm-owner Jane Boahn saw few promising prospects for her family farm after the tobacco market collapsed. To preserve her family’s rural lifestyle and with few resources available, she converted her farm into a country store, learning center, and event venue. Seventy-five percent of her advertising, marketing, and event sales are conducted online through her website or social media.

However, her internet connection is inconsistent and too slow to scale her business. An all-too familiar story for small business owners throughout rural North Carolina. North Carolina leads the Southeast in broadband infrastructure deployment and ranks 16th in the nation. A reported 93 percent of North Carolinians have access to broadband at their homes, yet, of the those without adequate access, 89 percent, like Jane, live in rural areas. Building on his commitment to increase access to affordable high-speed internet across North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently released a State Broadband Plan.

The plan addresses the challenges facing sparsely populated areas and offers solutions, focusing on:

• Lowering infrastructure construction costs,

• Increasing broadband adoption and use,

• Expanding access for K-12 students at home,

• Preparing a 21st century workforce,

• Increasing small business adoption,

• Expanding health care options, and

• Enhancing public safety communications.

The plan, developed by the Broadband Infrastructure Office within the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, represents a collaborative effort. Challenges were identified and recommendations were gathered from more than a dozen stakeholder listening sessions, discussions with nearly 60 subject matter experts, and a survey of 3,500 local leaders. Through the course of writing the plan two common themes emerged:

1) competition drives expansion and innovation and affordability, and:

2) engaged communities and their partnerships with private sector internet service providers or cooperatives are the biggest factors in bridging existing digital divides in sparsely populated areas or those without robust competition.

This partnership model encourages communities to marry existing infrastructure with private providers’ experience operating broadband networks. Specifically, local governments have the power to create pathways for broadband infrastructure by easing access to right-of-ways, electric or light poles, and other vertical assets.

In addition, decreasing or waiving permitting fees, and identifying and coordinating infrastructure construction projects incentivize providers to invest by lowering their deployment costs. The plan’s focus on expanding and improving infrastructure serves another purpose. Trends show more people today are using mobile devices to access the internet than ever before. Technology companies and internet service providers are working on next-generation wireless, a promising solution for people in rural areas.

Yet even these wireless networks rely on wires that can handle large amounts of bandwidth. Investments today will better position the state to quickly adopt these technologies. Access isn’t the only issue facing rural communities the plan addresses.

In many areas with access, large numbers of people don’t subscribe to high-speed internet service. We call this adoption, or the percentage of the population that subscribes to broadband. At 16 percent, the state ranks in the bottom third nationally.

Obviously, cost — of both the service and the device (computer, tablet, laptop) — is a major barrier. But relevancy and lack of computer skills also negatively impact adoption. This is important both because greater adoption rates result in greater realizations of broadband’s potential benefits, and in greater demand, which attracts providers. Leaders willing to implement this plan can ensure high-speed internet access for people like Jane and her fellow North Carolinians. The Broadband Infrastructure Office, using a proven process to achieve greater broadband access and adoption, looks forward to partnering with willing communities to implement this plan.

Jeff Sural is General Counsel & Policy Director for the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

 

patrick 2016 2

By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

On July 25th, the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions invited the Rural Center to present the rural point of view regarding statewide transportation planning and funding.  The center offered our analysis of how the new Strategic Transportation Investments Act was working for rural transportation priorities.

In 2013, the General Assembly passed the Strategic Transportation Investments Act (STI), replacing the old equity formula for determining statewide transportation priorities.  Today, under STI, a Workgroup exists that reviews and develops a methodology whereby transportation projects are reviewed, rated, and ranked. Local governments submit projects, DOT assigns quantitative scores, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Rural Planning Organizations/Division Engineers assign local input scores.  Following this process, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is created every two years consisting of a 5 year “delivery” plan and a 10 year plan. STIP3.0 was used to develop the 2016-2025 STIP4.0 will develop the 2018-2027 STIP.

In my presentation to the House Select Committee, I offered the following observations:

  • Transportation is highlighted as a foundational strategy in Rural Counts: 10 Strategies for Rural North Carolina’s Future.  Urban transportation needs are driven heavily by congestion, whereas rural transportation needs are driven more by safety, maintenance and economic development considerations.  These are very different drivers, but they are equally important to urban and rural counties respectively.

  • Data driven prioritization, the underlying intent of the STI, represents sound planning and good policy. BUT, the formula is weighted heavily to congestion, minimizing the economic development priority projects critical to rural counties.

  • In the recently released Statewide Prioritization 4.0 list (representing the Statewide Funding portion of STIP or 40% of available funding)
    • 79 % of the total $3.1 billion would go to the 6 urban counties. 68% would go to 4 of the 6 counties
    • 11.5% will be awarded to projects in the 14 Regional City/Suburban Counties
    • 9.5% would be awarded to the 80 rural counties, representing only 2 counties out of 80. Just 4.5% or $142.5 million would go to rural counties served by a Rural Planning Organization (RPO).
  • The Governor’s 25 Year Strategic Transportation Vision’s economic development objectives cannot be achieved by the process as it currently exists.  Modest changes in the weight of criteria and stronger, exclusively rural representation on the prioritization workgroup would result in better results for rural projects.
  • Because the current process pressures stakeholders to aggregate points to secure larger projects within the 40% statewide tier, it is exceptionally difficult for small projects to secure funding in the regional (30%) and divisional tiers (30%).
  • The 20% local match requirement for the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) (greenways, bike lanes, etc) is onerous for small towns.
  • Finally, as noted by all speakers on the agenda, because of the magnitude of the need and the annual amount of available funding, a pay-as-you-go approach is not equal to the challenges North Carolina faces.

The center will continue to closely follow the work of this committee, and we wish to thank the professional and helpful staff of the Rural Transportation Organizations for their help in preparing us for this presentation.  We’re sharing with all of you the Rural Center presentation and speaker notes from this presentation. If you’d like more information, including all presentations from the July 25th meeting,  you can find it on the committee’s website: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/DocumentSites/browseDocSite.asp?nID=283  

Jason Gray 1By Jason Gray
Senior Fellow
Research & Policy

Change in Rural MHI By Race Hispanic  1 CLICK ON THE GRAPHICS TO ENLARGE

Last month we highlighted rural Median Household Income (MHI) and how it changed between 2000 and 2014. We want to dig deeper into this data and share how it looks by major racial/ethnic breakouts: black, white, Native American (all non-Latino) and Latino (which includes a range of racial groups).

Percentage Change in White MHIThe first graphic summarizes change between 2000 and 2014. All classifications saw decline. Indeed, national MHI decreased by 7.7 percent over the period. North Carolina’s rural populations have had it worse than that. Note also that rural black MHI in 2014 was just 61 percent of white MHI. Because the data is for a household, rather than an individual or family, we believe the Latino MHI is higher because of more non-family wage earners per household.

The three maps give the geographic spread for MHI change in all 100 counties between 2000 and 2014. The first map presents the data for the rural white population. Two points stand out. First, only 11 of the 100 counties experienced an increase in MHI – and all of them but one (Orange County) are rural. The four northeast cluster of counties also stand out, likely because of their increasingly connection to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach metro region. All Percentage Change in Black MHI other counties saw a modest to significant decline. Second, the greatest decline in MHI for whites was geographically concentrated in rural northwest counties that had significant manufacturing employment loss.

MHI for rural blacks increased or was steady in eight eastern counties. This is good news. In western counties there were a number of counties with no data due to very small African American populations. Large black MHI declines in several western counties, Ashe and Cherokee in particular, is likely due to the small population sample size.

MHI change for rural Latino households was uneven with 19 counties show gains and 81 with losses. The three counties with the                                                                       largest gains each have a very small numberof households (under 100) in 2014, which I believe accounts for the 100 percent plus                                                                     growth.

Percentage Change in Hispanic MHI In economic development we over-rely on using job creation as the key economic indicator. Income must also be a critical benchmark. Rural North Carolina has lost ground and we have not yet caught up.

 

LEADERSHIP

  Jason Gray 1By Jason Gray

  Senior Fellow

  Research & Policy

 

The health of individuals, communities, and their local economies are tightly woven. This knowledge drives the theme for the 2016 Rural Assembly:  Growing Better Together: Rural Health and Economic Development.

 

Here is our monthly data visualization that makes a simple case for why this intersection between health and economic development is so important. We begin with data from the 2016 County Health Rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We encourage you to go to their website to explore your own county’s data to see you your county ranks.  The Foundation is widely respected for this national analysis that is updated annually.

 

The map below classifies the 80 rural county rankings into quartiles, meaning the counties are ranked and divided into four groups of 20. The 1st Quartile has the 20 counties with the lowest health ranking scores, the 4th Quartile has the 20 counties with the highest health ranking scores. We’ve included the 20 Urban and Regional City/Suburban counties as their own separate classification.

 

As we have pointed out in our past data visualizations, our most economically distressed rural counties tend to cluster into two general regions – several counties in northeastern North Carolina and several counties in the southeastern/south central sandhills area near the North Carolina/South Carolina border.  As you can see, the 1st Quartile of the County Health Rankings follows this pattern and reflects many of the counties in these two regions.

 

What are the income patterns associated with these health rankings? In the graphs below and to the right of the map we have two different sources of income. The top graph is the U.S. Census Bureau’s Median Household Income (MHI). This builds on the MHI data we shared last month. As you can see, MHI levels are closely correlated with where a county ranks among the health quartiles. 

 

The bottom graph displays income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis – a research division within the United States Department of Commerce. It is insightful because per capita personal income (total county income divided by total county population) is divided into three streams:

 

·         Per capita net earnings – earnings by place of work plus the adjustment for residence

·         Personal Transfer Receipts – this includes Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and unemployment insurance benefits

·         Dividends, interest and rent – consists of personal dividend income, personal interest income, and rental income

 

You can select which income stream you want to see from the pull down menu just below the graph title: “2014 Personal Income Components by Health Quartiles.”  By scrolling over the map, the BEA data for individual counties is also displayed.

 

Average per capita personal income shows some association with the health quartiles, but the connection is not as strong as with MHI. Why the slight increase in the 2nd quartile over the 3rd Quartile? We believe 2rd Quartile Counties Wayne, Duplin, Sampson, Beaufort and Wilson have per capital personal income over $35,000, but generally poorer health rankings – this nudges the quartiles income data up a bit. This is also seen in the per capita net earnings visual.

 

Transfer Receipts have an inverse relation to the quartiles. They are highest in the 1st quartile counties that have the worst health metrics. These counties have older populations, so there is more per capita Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments.

 

Finally, Dividends, Interest and Rent data shows that higher dollar values result generally in improved health metrics. The Dividends, Interest and Rent value for the 4th quartile counties (highest health rankings) is higher than the urban and regional city/suburban counties. Why is that? The 4th quartile rural counties attracting relatively high wealth retirees: Moore, Polk, Carteret and Dare counties, all with over $10,000 per capita in this category.

 

All this only hints at the complex relationship between personal health and economic well being and between community health and economic prosperity. We’ll explore this more at the 2016 Rural Assembly. Haven’t registered yet? You can do so here. We look forward to seeing you!

Link to Tableau Visuals:
https://public.tableau.com/profile/publish/HealthRankingsLivingWage/Dashboard1#!/publish-confirm

 

 

Bridge Loan Program Assisting Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

dixoncombined       

Derria and Barry Dixon (left) are working to recover from flood Damage at the offices of Dixon Social Interactive Services in Kinston (right).

The Rural Center made the first loan from the N.C. Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to Derria and Barry Dixon of Dixon Social Interactive Services. Dixon Social Interactive Services is a provider for Mental and Behavioral Health offering counseling, day treatment, and therapy to individuals as well as families with offices in Greenville, Kinston, New Bern, and Rocky Mount.

The Dixons were shocked to return to their office in Kinston after Hurricane Matthew to find it flooded with almost a foot of water and most of its contents destroyed. The Dixons saw information about the Emergency Bridge Loan Program posted from MCO Eastpointe, a company that works with communities and the behavioral healthcare system. Derria and Barry applied and were approved a loan to help them get back on their feet quickly. When the hurricane hit, they had to cease operations, but because of this loan they were able to start back up while waiting for their insurance provider to cover damages. “This was our first time working with the Rural Center and it has been a beyond pleasant experience from the quickness in addressing the need our community had, to approving the loan. We are grateful,” said Derria Dixon.

The Rural Center launched the N.C. Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program on October 27th, and so far has made 8 loans for a total of $120,000 to small businesses affected by Hurricane Matthew. The loans have helped the businesses retain 72 full-time and 34 part-time jobs in Chowan, Columbus, Cumberland,Lenoir and Robeson counties. The Bridge Loan Program is a partnership of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), and the Community College Small Business Center Network. The program has raised over $2.6 million from funders including the Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C.'s Electric Cooperatives, BB&T, PNC and Wells Fargo.

For more information or to find a program office, visit : www.sbtdc.org/hurricanematthew.
To apply, visit : www.ncruralcenter.org/hurricanematthew.

 

Jeff-Sural1By Jeff Sural
Guest Columnist

 

In Beaufort County just outside of Chocowinity, farm-owner Jane Boahn saw few promising prospects for her family farm after the tobacco market collapsed. To preserve her family’s rural lifestyle and with few resources available, she converted her farm into a country store, learning center, and event venue. Seventy-five percent of her advertising, marketing, and event sales are conducted online through her website or social media.

However, her internet connection is inconsistent and too slow to scale her business. An all-too familiar story for small business owners throughout rural North Carolina. North Carolina leads the Southeast in broadband infrastructure deployment and ranks 16th in the nation. A reported 93 percent of North Carolinians have access to broadband at their homes, yet, of the those without adequate access, 89 percent, like Jane, live in rural areas. Building on his commitment to increase access to affordable high-speed internet across North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently released a State Broadband Plan.

The plan addresses the challenges facing sparsely populated areas and offers solutions, focusing on:

• Lowering infrastructure construction costs,

• Increasing broadband adoption and use,

• Expanding access for K-12 students at home,

• Preparing a 21st century workforce,

• Increasing small business adoption,

• Expanding health care options, and

• Enhancing public safety communications.

The plan, developed by the Broadband Infrastructure Office within the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, represents a collaborative effort. Challenges were identified and recommendations were gathered from more than a dozen stakeholder listening sessions, discussions with nearly 60 subject matter experts, and a survey of 3,500 local leaders. Through the course of writing the plan two common themes emerged:

1) competition drives expansion and innovation and affordability, and:

2) engaged communities and their partnerships with private sector internet service providers or cooperatives are the biggest factors in bridging existing digital divides in sparsely populated areas or those without robust competition.

This partnership model encourages communities to marry existing infrastructure with private providers’ experience operating broadband networks. Specifically, local governments have the power to create pathways for broadband infrastructure by easing access to right-of-ways, electric or light poles, and other vertical assets.

In addition, decreasing or waiving permitting fees, and identifying and coordinating infrastructure construction projects incentivize providers to invest by lowering their deployment costs. The plan’s focus on expanding and improving infrastructure serves another purpose. Trends show more people today are using mobile devices to access the internet than ever before. Technology companies and internet service providers are working on next-generation wireless, a promising solution for people in rural areas.

Yet even these wireless networks rely on wires that can handle large amounts of bandwidth. Investments today will better position the state to quickly adopt these technologies. Access isn’t the only issue facing rural communities the plan addresses.

In many areas with access, large numbers of people don’t subscribe to high-speed internet service. We call this adoption, or the percentage of the population that subscribes to broadband. At 16 percent, the state ranks in the bottom third nationally.

Obviously, cost — of both the service and the device (computer, tablet, laptop) — is a major barrier. But relevancy and lack of computer skills also negatively impact adoption. This is important both because greater adoption rates result in greater realizations of broadband’s potential benefits, and in greater demand, which attracts providers. Leaders willing to implement this plan can ensure high-speed internet access for people like Jane and her fellow North Carolinians. The Broadband Infrastructure Office, using a proven process to achieve greater broadband access and adoption, looks forward to partnering with willing communities to implement this plan.

Jeff Sural is General Counsel & Policy Director for the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

 

patrick 2016 2

By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

On July 25th, the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions invited the Rural Center to present the rural point of view regarding statewide transportation planning and funding.  The center offered our analysis of how the new Strategic Transportation Investments Act was working for rural transportation priorities.

In 2013, the General Assembly passed the Strategic Transportation Investments Act (STI), replacing the old equity formula for determining statewide transportation priorities.  Today, under STI, a Workgroup exists that reviews and develops a methodology whereby transportation projects are reviewed, rated, and ranked. Local governments submit projects, DOT assigns quantitative scores, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Rural Planning Organizations/Division Engineers assign local input scores.  Following this process, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is created every two years consisting of a 5 year “delivery” plan and a 10 year plan. STIP3.0 was used to develop the 2016-2025 STIP4.0 will develop the 2018-2027 STIP.

In my presentation to the House Select Committee, I offered the following observations:

  • Transportation is highlighted as a foundational strategy in Rural Counts: 10 Strategies for Rural North Carolina’s Future.  Urban transportation needs are driven heavily by congestion, whereas rural transportation needs are driven more by safety, maintenance and economic development considerations.  These are very different drivers, but they are equally important to urban and rural counties respectively.

  • Data driven prioritization, the underlying intent of the STI, represents sound planning and good policy. BUT, the formula is weighted heavily to congestion, minimizing the economic development priority projects critical to rural counties.

  • In the recently released Statewide Prioritization 4.0 list (representing the Statewide Funding portion of STIP or 40% of available funding)
    • 79 % of the total $3.1 billion would go to the 6 urban counties. 68% would go to 4 of the 6 counties
    • 11.5% will be awarded to projects in the 14 Regional City/Suburban Counties
    • 9.5% would be awarded to the 80 rural counties, representing only 2 counties out of 80. Just 4.5% or $142.5 million would go to rural counties served by a Rural Planning Organization (RPO).
  • The Governor’s 25 Year Strategic Transportation Vision’s economic development objectives cannot be achieved by the process as it currently exists.  Modest changes in the weight of criteria and stronger, exclusively rural representation on the prioritization workgroup would result in better results for rural projects.
  • Because the current process pressures stakeholders to aggregate points to secure larger projects within the 40% statewide tier, it is exceptionally difficult for small projects to secure funding in the regional (30%) and divisional tiers (30%).
  • The 20% local match requirement for the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) (greenways, bike lanes, etc) is onerous for small towns.
  • Finally, as noted by all speakers on the agenda, because of the magnitude of the need and the annual amount of available funding, a pay-as-you-go approach is not equal to the challenges North Carolina faces.

The center will continue to closely follow the work of this committee, and we wish to thank the professional and helpful staff of the Rural Transportation Organizations for their help in preparing us for this presentation.  We’re sharing with all of you the Rural Center presentation and speaker notes from this presentation. If you’d like more information, including all presentations from the July 25th meeting,  you can find it on the committee’s website: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/DocumentSites/browseDocSite.asp?nID=283  

Jason Gray 1By Jason Gray
Senior Fellow
Research & Policy

Change in Rural MHI By Race Hispanic  1 CLICK ON THE GRAPHICS TO ENLARGE

Last month we highlighted rural Median Household Income (MHI) and how it changed between 2000 and 2014. We want to dig deeper into this data and share how it looks by major racial/ethnic breakouts: black, white, Native American (all non-Latino) and Latino (which includes a range of racial groups).

Percentage Change in White MHIThe first graphic summarizes change between 2000 and 2014. All classifications saw decline. Indeed, national MHI decreased by 7.7 percent over the period. North Carolina’s rural populations have had it worse than that. Note also that rural black MHI in 2014 was just 61 percent of white MHI. Because the data is for a household, rather than an individual or family, we believe the Latino MHI is higher because of more non-family wage earners per household.

The three maps give the geographic spread for MHI change in all 100 counties between 2000 and 2014. The first map presents the data for the rural white population. Two points stand out. First, only 11 of the 100 counties experienced an increase in MHI – and all of them but one (Orange County) are rural. The four northeast cluster of counties also stand out, likely because of their increasingly connection to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach metro region. All Percentage Change in Black MHI other counties saw a modest to significant decline. Second, the greatest decline in MHI for whites was geographically concentrated in rural northwest counties that had significant manufacturing employment loss.

MHI for rural blacks increased or was steady in eight eastern counties. This is good news. In western counties there were a number of counties with no data due to very small African American populations. Large black MHI declines in several western counties, Ashe and Cherokee in particular, is likely due to the small population sample size.

MHI change for rural Latino households was uneven with 19 counties show gains and 81 with losses. The three counties with the                                                                       largest gains each have a very small numberof households (under 100) in 2014, which I believe accounts for the 100 percent plus                                                                     growth.

Percentage Change in Hispanic MHI In economic development we over-rely on using job creation as the key economic indicator. Income must also be a critical benchmark. Rural North Carolina has lost ground and we have not yet caught up.