Poverty in Forsyth County

Between 2006 and 2014, Forsyth County’s poverty rate increased by 7 percentage points – an increase from an estimated 43,000 to 71,000 people living in poverty. With a poverty rate of 20% in 2014, Forsyth County has a higher percentage of residents living in poverty than the North Carolina state average, as well as a higher percentage of residents in poverty than in demographically comparable communities (see Comparison Communities below).


The Forsyth County Poverty Study was funded and carried out to inform organizational and community efforts to improve the conditions of poverty in Forsyth County. A primary goal of the Poverty Study is to identify which risk factors could contribute to poverty and disparities in poverty in Forsyth County. Forsyth Futures’ role in authoring the Forsyth County Poverty Study is to provide a source of unbiased analyses as a resource for individuals and organizations in the community; it is not Forsyth Futures’ role to identify or advocate for specific actions or policies.


This study seeks to explore how various risk factors relate to poverty using a scientifically valid methodology. Forsyth Futures identified many risk factors that could be linked to poverty based on a review of academic literature, a review of analyses conducted by local community partners, and qualitative community input. Forsyth Futures examined the prevalence of each risk factor and how it relates to poverty overall, as well as by key demographic factors. For some factors, the data available only allowed for less detailed analysis, or could not be used for this study at all. Due to the difficulties of scientifically identifying true causes and the data available, it was impossible to prove that any specific factor was a cause of poverty in Forsyth County, but Forsyth Futures was able to identify several factors that could be contributing to Forsyth County’s increasing poverty rates and disproportionate poverty among some populations.

Comparison Communities

A core component of this analysis is an examination of how Forsyth County compares on the topic of poverty with similar communities across the United States. To select these communities, Forsyth Futures used an algorithm to identify demographically similar peer communities: Guilford County, NC, Jackson County, MO, Pulaski County, AR, Roanoke (munc.), VA, and Lafayette Parish, LA. The inclusion of comparison communities provides context as to which factors may contribute to poverty rates in Forsyth County being higher than in its comparison communities. Learn more about the comparison communities used in this analysis.

If you have questions about the 2017 Forsyth County Poverty Study, please email

Forsyth Futures studies our community to inform action by providing valuable context to community stakeholders and advocates on all levels. We believe that a better-informed community is empowered to advocate for the evidence-based policies and solutions that can improve quality of life for all in Forsyth County.