The North Carolina Justice Center has released statistics on the number of people in poverty in our state, and the results are staggering. The data show 18 counties in North Carolina have poverty levels above 20 percent. Nine of those counties are in Eastern Carolina.

Here's a list of those counties in Eastern Carolina with a poverty level above 20 percent:
Lenoir: 25.7%
Martin: 24.6%
Hertford: 24.6%
Halifax: 23.8%
Edgecombe: 22.9%
Northampton: 22.4%
Pitt: 22.2%
Duplin: 21.5%

The overall state poverty rate is 14.6 percent.

These statistics, for the year 2008, could be considered conservative, since unemployment rates are higher now than they were last year.

Latinos make up the largest ethnic group living in poverty at 28.2 percent, which is a rate three times as high as whites. The share of African Americans living in poverty in North Carolina is 24.3 percent.