ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - New numbers out this week from the US Census Bureau show since 2000, more North and South Carolinians are living below the poverty line and households are bringing in less money.
"It's very, very challenging," said unemployed Rock Hill resident Patricia Staley.
Money is tight these days for Staley and her six children after she was laid-off from her job back in March.
She has been unsuccessful in landing work since then.
"It's been tough. I haven't been able to go to Good Will and thrift stores where I normally get a lot of bargains. I just have to cut corners everywhere," said Staley.
She isn't alone.
According to numbers from the US Census Bureau, since 2000, median household income levels in both of the Carolinas dropped by more than 10%.
Also, residents in poverty in South Carolina increased by nearly 300,000 people since 2000 and almost 700,000 North Carolina residents fell below the poverty line since the turn of the millennium.
"As unfortunate as it is, I wish I was surprised by stuff like that, but it's not surprising," said Winthrop University economics professor Laura Ullrich.
Ullrich says the reason we're seeing these numbers are because of the types of jobs that left the Carolinas during the recession and education issues.
She says both Carolinas rank below national average when it comes to residents with a high school or college diploma.
"In the Carolinas, we've lost a lot of textile jobs, which typically employ people with less than a college education," said Ullrich.
She believes there is hope for the future.
Ullrich says the educational system should cater to students who aren't college bound to build technical skills.
"We need to be training more engineers, more mathematicians and more scientists so we're ready for the new high tech jobs. We want those jobs to come here and not go elsewhere," she continued.
As for Staley, who is a college graduate, she's optimistic things will turn around soon for her family.
"I'm still positive about things and I know things are going to be looking up," said Staley.
Ullrich also pointed out unemployment rates in rural parts of the Carolinas typically stay above the national average because of the lack of an educated workforce.
Numbers from the US Census Bureau also showed a higher percentage of North and South Carolinians went uninsured in 2012.