Lew Ebert: North Carolina’s economy is growing
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, the facts fail to support the argument that, North Caroina tax cuts have failed to grow the economy.
Before 2013, a history of reliance on narrow bases and high rates fueled erratic fluctuations in annual tax collections. High individual rates placed an unfair burden on families and stifled capital access for small businesses and entrepreneurs, while inflated business taxes discouraged new investments and damaged our potential to attract jobs.
The 2013 tax reforms were about creating a healthy overall business climate that ensured our state could continue competing for big growth. The corporate income tax was lowered, and the personal income tax rate got the same treatment. Personal rates dropped from a regional high of 7.75 percent to 5.75 percent, falling further still with subsequent reforms.
The results of those balanced changes? A $400 million surplus in the 2014-2015 budget. And another $430 million at the end of the most recent fiscal year.
“With its unemployment rate below 5 percent for the past four months, North Carolina’s labor market has now returned to the zone of full employment,” economists with Wells Fargo Securities reported recently. “More and more businesses are reporting they are having difficulty finding and retaining the skilled workers they need, which is pushing wages higher and pulling job seekers back into the labor market.”
North Carolina is outpacing the nation with 10,000 new jobs added in September, and unemployment has fallen below the national average. Economists say it hasn’t been this low since 2007.
All this, and we’re coming off three straight years with more than 70,000 new jobs created annually. Tax reforms didn’t prevent North Carolina from passing the first long-term transportation funding package in more than a generation – $708 million in recurring revenue to protect the future of a network that touches the daily lives of every North Carolinian.
New reforms will continue to be made with our economic future in mind: Strengthening alignment between changing workforce trends and education priorities to deliver a next generation talent pipeline; further streamlining regulations and broadening access to affordable energy to keep jobs growing in communities across our state.
So for anyone who “feels” our state is stuck in a rut, I say look at the facts. They paint a pretty convincing picture of an economy that is not just growing, but thriving.