One of the many challenges that state leaders will need to tackle in addressing the COVID-19 crisis is how to help workers living paycheck-to-paycheck. Workers will be forced to miss work if they are quarantined. For others in today’s gig economy, having their hours scaled back could spell disaster when it comes to paying the monthly bills.
All of these problems are made more acute in places like 2020 North Carolina where rents are high, unemployment insurance benefits are among the lowest in the nation and many people don’t have access to paid sick leave.
This week’s Monday numbers column examines several of these issues.
A closer look at paid sick leave:
12 – Only a dozen states and the District of Columbia have legislation that currently requires employers to provide paid sick leave (Pew Research Center)
0 – the number of states in the South that mandate employers offer some form of paid sick leave
64 – only 64% of employers with fewer than 50 employees offer access to paid sick leave
31 – the percentage of low-earning workers (those whose making $10.80 an hour or less) have access to paid sick leave.
22 – Among the civilian workers who earned paid sick leave in 2019, it was less than five days 22% of the time (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Now let’s look at housing costs:
10.9 million – the number of renter households in the U.S. with extremely low-incomes
3.6 million – the estimated shortage of affordable rental homes according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition
71 – the percentage (7.7 million) of the nation’s 10.9 million extremely low-income renter households that are severely housing cost-burdened. That means they spend spending more than half of their incomes on rent and utilities each month.
0 – the number of states with an adequate supply of rental housing affordable and available for extremely low-income households
46 – the percentage of extremely low-income renter households that are headed by seniors or disabled
19 – Black households account for 19% of all renters in the United States, but they account for 26% of all renter households with extremely low incomes.
15 – the percentage of Hispanic households that are extremely low-income renters.
78 – the number of hours per week that a worker earning minimum wage ($7.25/hour) would need to work to afford a modest one-bedroom rental home in North Carolina at Fair Market Rent
More than 1-in-4 – the number of North Carolina households that are “cost-burdened” having to pay over 30% of their income for housing
24 – the percentage of Wake County households that are cost-burdened
30 – the percentage of Mecklenburg County households that are cost-burdened
Why the current unemployment insurance system is not much of a safety net:
$264 – the average weekly unemployment benefit in North Carolina
$350 – the maximum weekly unemployment benefit in North Carolina
8.6 – the average number of weeks an unemployed worker receives UI benefits in North Carolina
50th – North Carolina’s ranking among states in terms of its generosity of UI benefits and duration
And on the education front:
Finally, it’s worth re-posting some of the numbers our education reporter Greg Childress shared on why closing the schools out of an abundance of caution may be essential, but will present another set of challenges for North Carolina K-12 students and teachers and their ability to access mobile learning:
32 – the percentage of schools that have a device per student ratio of less than 1, which means they do not have enough computers for every student (Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction)
70 – the percentage of schools that do not have a device for each student across all grades
80 – the percentage of schools that do not have programs in place to send devices home for all grades
49 – the percentage of schools that do not have alternate accommodations for students without internet
18 – the percentage of schools that report 50% or more of their students do not have internet access at home
0 – the state does not have accurate data on device or internet access for school staff