North Carolina, a state that once sent more Confederate soldiers into the Civil War than any other Southern state, has moved to embrace its diversity, a step which Charlotte’s population reflects. In 1980, Charlotte was a majority-white city. But by 2010, people of color had gone from one-third to over half of the population. The economic vitality of this city is threatened by racial inequality. Black unemployment is more than 2.5 times the rate for white workers. There are also wide gaps in earnings by race and gender. White workers earn $27 per hour compared to just $16 for blacks and $12 for Latino workers. Charlotte’s regional economy would be $25 billion stronger with no racial income gaps. The skills gap will continue to grow if Charlotte does not take steps to increase educational attainment among black and Latino residents. Approximately 42 percent of jobs in Charlotte require some college education. While 69 percent of white people meet this requirement, only 30 percent of black people and 42 percent of Latino people are educated enough to compete.
In Charlotte, we conducted interviews with individuals with the help of Charlotte’s Community Building Initiative (CBI), a nonprofit established in 1997 by government and civic leaders to achieve racial and ethnic inclusion and equity. Leaders from CBI and City Hall helped to organize a small group discussion at City Hall. Rev. Jacotran Potts also took us on a tour of several communities. We conducted three focus groups composed of college-educated black men and non-college-educated black and white women. Learn more by reading the full report.