This map series shows the annual rates of child poverty in the fourteen-county Charlotte region for the years 2000 through 2009. The shade of the county represents the severity of child poverty; the darker the teal, the greater the percent of children living in poverty in that county.
Click the play button below the title to start the animation. To view specific years, click the on timeline at the appropriate point.
As the map illustrates, rates of child poverty in the region have increased noticeably in recent years, moving from an average of 15% in 2000 to 22% in 2009. This trend mirrors that of the national child poverty rate closely, which increased from 16% in 2000 to 20% in 2009.
Although the overall trend in the region has been one of increasing severity, the interim years exhibited more complexity. In the first half of the decade, child poverty rates in the region grow incrementally from year to year. Then in 2006 and 2007, the rates of child poverty dipped slightly region-wide, a possible reflection of a growing economy and housing market pre-recession. By 2008, the housing bubble had burst and the recession had begun, sending child poverty on the rise once again. Finally, in 2009, the region’s child poverty rates increased dramatically to their highest level of the decade, as unemployment and the foreclosure crisis continued to worsen.
Clearly, the severity of child poverty varies across the individual counties that comprise the Charlotte region. Much of the patterns that appear in this time series can be attributed to differences in unemployment and overall economic development. Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) is at the heart of the region and spurs much of the region’s economic growth, even beyond its county lines. Surrounding counties that have harnessed this growth in addition to their own economic development and reduced (or controlled) unemployment have seen lower child poverty rates. Union County, whose recent growth has been fueled by suburban development, has been the state’s fastest growing county in the past decade and, perhaps consequentially, has maintained one of the lowest rates of child poverty throughout the 2000s. Likewise, Cabarrus County, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the region, has experienced comparatively low child poverty rates. Anson County, on the other hand, has had much higher unemployment rates as the manufacturing and local agriculture sectors have declined and consistently registered the highest child poverty rates in the region, ranging from 22% (its lowest value) in 2000 and its peak 32% in 2009. Other counties in the region experiencing similar declines to Anson in employment such as Chester and Lancaster, have had similarly high child poverty rates.