JLF head John Hood’s column on Friday touched on the importance of of a key piece of data in the public policy debate in North Carolina:
In order to have a meaningful conversation about how to address the state’s economic woes, there must be a shared set of facts. If you think that North Carolina’s problems only began with the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, then you probably don’t favor major changes to the state’s long-established fiscal, regulatory, education, and transportation policies. Much of what the General Assembly is doing this year, then, will strike you as puzzling, unwise, or counterproductive.
On the other hand, if you know that North Carolina’s economic underperformance began in the mid-1990s, has persisted through both national booms and busts, and compares particularly unfavorably to pacesetting Sunbelt economies such as Texas and Virginia, then you probably do favor major changes to the state’s long-established fiscal, regulatory, education, and transportation policies – because you have come to see North Carolina’s policies as unwise and counterproductive.
Real per-capita GDP is an economic measurement. But it is also a tool for understanding North Carolina politics.