Economic snapshot highlights county’s strengths and shortcomings

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

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Last month, the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center released an economic snapshot for each of the 100 counties in the state. Though employment has improved since the pandemic, many Beaufort County residents struggle to meet basic needs. 


According to the snapshot, rent is unaffordable for 49% of renters in the county. There is one mental health provider for every 620 residents and 12% of residents do not have health insurance. 


In Beaufort County, 38% of the population is considered low-income (which means less than $55,500 for a family of four. A family is considered low-income if they make below 200% of the federal poverty line.) The living standard annual income for one adult, two kids in the county is $51,200 which is $9,500 below the state standard at $60,700. Between the years 2016 and 2020, the median household income for county residents was $48,100, but the statewide median household income was $56,600. (This is a measure of how much a household needs in order to pay for basic expenses.) Median earnings for men with a bachelor’s degree in Beaufort County is $45,100. Conversely the state average is $64,900. Median earnings for women with a bachelor’s degree in the county is $43,000. The state median is $600 more for women, per the NC Tax and Budget Center. 


Also, from 2016 to 2020 the percentage of people living in poverty was four percent higher than the state average at 14%. The percentage of children living in poverty in Beaufort County was 27; however, the state percent was 20. As of May 2022, 22% of county residents receive SNAP food assistance.  


When looking at access to affordable housing, the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center found that 49% of renter households in Beaufort County were using more than 30% of their income to pay for rent between 2016 and 2020. In the same time frame, 30% of households used more than 50% of their income to pay for rent. These figures are higher than state averages of 47% of renting householding using more than 30% of their income to pay for rent and 22% of renting households using 50% of their income to pay for rent. 


The number of work hours at minimum wage it takes to afford a two-bedroom home at a fair market rent in 2021 ($690 for Beaufort County and $960 for North Carolina) were 74 hours per week for the county and 102 hours per week across the state. 


The unemployment rate in the county as of April 2022 is 3.5%, according to the NC Tax and Budget Center. There are 710 unemployed people actively seeking work. There are 19,310 employed people in the county. From February 2020 to April 2022, there was a 15% decrease in the number of unemployed people actively seeking work, but there was a 3% change in the number of people employed. There are 3% more people working in April 2022 than before February 2020 and 4% fewer than before December 2007. 


When looking at healthcare coverage after researching unemployment in Beaufort County, the NC Tax and Budget Center found that 12% of residents were without health insurance between 2016 and 2020 which is one percent higher than the state average. 


In total, Beaufort County’s population is 43,700 – a decrease of 7% within the past decade; however, the state’s population has increased by 9% in the past decade.