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Report from Cape Fear Collective highlights wage inequality and lack of affordable housing

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new report from Cape Fear Collective, with support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, details a “tale of two economies” in our region.

The report, which can be viewed here, found home ownership is out of reach for many workers and details severe wage inequality in the region, particularity for women of color. Researchers spent a year studying the region to better understand the economic challenges and opportunities.

“The key finding in the report is that while everyone has to work hard to make a living, we all have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but not everybody has the same bootstraps,” said Cape Fear Collective Data Scientist Dante Haywood. “Some have paracords with a pulley and an anchor so if you fall down you’re not going to fall off a cliff but for other people, your bootstraps don’t fill in all the eyelets on your boots or they may be a little short and it becomes hard to get ahead. That’s what the finding of the report is. We have to look inclusively to understand how we can help different communities in different ways.”

Haywood also discussed the findings that show people of color, especially women, earn significantly less than their white counterparts.

“We see across the counties the gender wage gap is as much as $20,000 between a female of color and the average white male and there is still an income gap for white females as well,” he said.

Cape Fear Collective hopes to use the report to work with nonprofits to inform programs that will help address these issues.

“We are not too naïve to think that poverty is going to disappear,” said Haywood. “We just want there to be progress and from the report what we found was there hasn’t been that much progress, especially in the black, indigenous and people of color community within the area. We want to enliven the conversation and have these conversations with people because they might not be happening.”

The report also details discrimination faced by job seekers with a criminal record.

“Economic status and upward mobility are at the heart of solving some of the most perplexing problems we face today,” said Patrick Brien, CEO of Cape Fear Collective. “Without an inclusive lens, standard economic indicators do not paint a clear picture of life in the Cape Fear region. Economic inequality and low wages are not providing the means for everyday people to thrive and enjoy all the region has to offer.”

To learn more about the work of Cape Fear Collective, visit www.capefearcollective.org.

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