Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mindy Adnot
In 2014, Raj Chetty conducted an important study that “ranked Charlotte last among the 50 largest US cities and Mecklenburg 99 out of 100 counties in upward mobility”(Opportunity Task Force Recommendations). A key factor in upward mobility is college and career readiness. One key statistic from the Leading on Opportunity report is that “Two of every three new jobs now require some level of postsecondary education—training credentials, an associate degree, a four-year degree, or higher” (Opportunity Task Force Recommendations).With the importance of a college education in preparing students for a successful career, I wanted to examine educational factors and see how they are related to other key facets that contribute to a person’s chances of upward mobility. I used the data from the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer, which explores neighborhood character, economics, education, engagement, environment, health, housing, safety and transportation.
I found that white communities in Mecklenburg County have greater access to higher education, and they also have higher employment rates and higher household incomes.
The mean foreclosure rate in 2016 was over 50% higher for nonwhites in comparison to whites in Mecklenburg County. Also, the median household income for nonwhites is over $25,000 less than that of whites in Mecklenburg County, and the upper quartile of household income for nonwhites is below the lower quartile of household income for whites. A key trend that I found in my data was that there was a strong positive correlation between percent white population and the percent of those with a bachelor’s degree. There was also a strong positive correlation between employment rate and household income. With all of this in mind, it is evident that the education level and access to higher education are important factors of economic mobility that also influence life outcomes. Therefore, Mecklenburg county should explore options to increase educational assistance programs for minorities and lower income families. This could be done through financial aid and grants as well as outreach programs that help to ensure students are able to graduate high school and will be ready to attend a university. Also, the county should have educational programs for career readiness.
Union. “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force Recommendations.” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force Recommendations, Leading on Opportunity, www.leadingonopportunity.org/report/executive-summary.