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Poverty level drops in city, county

By David Purtell

david.purtell@salisburypost.com

Salisbury’s poverty level declined in 2013, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The poverty rate for city residents fell from 28 percent in 2012 to 23 percent last year, according to data from the American Community Survey.

The survey produces three-year estimates, and 2013 data was released in late October.

The poverty rate for families in the city also declined, from 23 percent to 18 percent.

Robert Van Geons, executive director of the county’s economic development organization, presented the information to City Council Tuesday.

For Rowan County, the individual rate declined slightly, from almost 20 percent to just under 19 percent. For families in the county, the rate decreased from nearly 15 percent to 13 percent.

“They are positive numbers and positive elements, but we still have a long way to go,” Van Geons said about the data. He said the county was “hammered” by the recession and that it will take time to fully recover.

“The jobs are coming; people are getting employed,” he said.

Mayor Paul Woodson said he thinks the local economy is getting better.

Woodson owns a dry-cleaning business. Early last year, he said, he received over 100 applications for an open position. But, he said, a few weeks ago he received only about a dozen applications for an open position he was advertising.

The data also shows the poverty rate for people under 18 declined but still remains higher than the overall rate. For the county, children under 18 had a 28 percent poverty rate. It was estimated to be over 30 percent in 2012.

For North Carolina, the overall poverty rate was just under 18 percent in 2013.

Contact reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.

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