Post-recession Buncombe still struggling, local poverty rates surpass state and national average

Where we stand: With more than 40,000 Buncombe County residents living in poverty, the county’s poverty rate officially surpassed both state and national poverty rates in 2011, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. image courtesy of SYNEVA Economics

After sharing 42 slides worth of charts, data and graphs, an independent economic consultant speaking to local doctors, health advocates, politicians and board members at the Feb. 22 meeting of the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services made a conclusion: Though the recession started five years ago, the numbers show that Buncombe County still has "a ways to go."

"If you look at those charts … and get your calculator out as sort of a basic forecast, you can say that in a year and a half we'll be back to where we were in 2007,” said Tom Tveidt, an independent economist with SYNEVA Economics, a private consultancy that specializes in providing decision makers with local and regional economic analysis.

“But remember: We've added people since that time. So it's probably going to be eight or nine years to get back to where we were, to get everybody employed at the same rate we were in 2007," he continued.

"Nationwide we're still 3.1 million jobs less than where we were in 2007, so we're not there yet. We haven't gotten back. That's why five years later we're still talking about it."

For more about Tveidt’s report, go to or

— Caitlin Byrd can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 140, or


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