N&O’s Holiday Giving Guide, Page 6A

NC residents and charities struggle despite rising employment

lbonner@newsobserver.comDecember 7, 2013 

The state unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since the beginning of the Great Recession. But beneath the statistics are the struggles of North Carolinians who seek food, health care and other essentials from charities.

Some charitable organizations have seen demand for their services reach new records this year. Many of them are represented today in The News & Observer’s Holiday Giving Guide found at nando.com/holidaygiving.

Though the economy is creating more jobs, the state has still not replaced all job losses since 2008. Much of the job growth is in low-wage positions.

“We still have a tremendous amount of labor sitting idle in North Carolina,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies. “We have not generated enough jobs to keep up with labor force growth.”

The state had 81,000 fewer jobs in October than in December 2007, he said. The biggest gains were temporary employment services, home health and restaurants.

The prevalence of people who work but don’t make enough to afford sufficient groceries is one factor driving people to seek food from charities in record numbers, workers at charitable organizations say.

“A lot are making minimum wage or are in restaurants at below minimum wage,” said Terry Foley, director of Catholic Parish Outreach in Raleigh. “You can’t feed your family on that, or pay your bills or keep electricity on. If we can help them with a week’s worth of groceries, maybe they can pay their utility bill.”

Bonner: 919-829-4821; Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner

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