Valdosta Daily Times

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November 21, 2012

Think tank: Ga. workers lose 20 years of progress

ATLANTA — Georgia’s poverty rate is at its highest point in 30 years. The typical Georgia household’s annual income, in terms of purchasing power, is about what it was in 1990.

Those are some of the noteworthy conclusions of a new analysis released Tuesday by the left-leaning Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.

“Due to the almost unprecedented impact of the Great Recession,” researchers wrote, “working Georgians have seen essentially two decades worth of economic progress disappear. ... Georgia families are struggling across the board.”

The report was based on employment and wage figures compiled by various government agencies.

From 2010 to 2011, median household income fell by almost $2,000 in Georgia. Annual wages for the median worker, meanwhile, dropped more than $2,500. Since 2007, Hispanic and African-American workers, on average, have taken a harder income hit than their white counterparts. Across all races, workers without college degrees lost almost all of the wage gains they had seen since 1990.

The think tank, which typically advocates for aggressive government action, said the solution is to invest in education, job training and infrastructure. Those kind of investments “heighten quality of life and make Georgia an attractive place to live, work and invest,” the authors write.

But, they add, Georgia leaders have abandoned such a strategy in recent years.

“Deep budget cuts over the last several years have helped to undermine the well-being of average Georgians, and they continue to compromise the state’s path to economic recovery.”

The report did not cite specific cuts or make specific policy recommendations going forward.

The analysis does not include any figures from 2012, during which many economic indicators have crept upward nationally.

In Georgia, state tax collections through the first several months of the current fiscal year are up over their 2011 levels. There has been a sharp increase in corporate income tax collections and a more modest, though steady increase in personal income tax collections.

That could suggest an improving household earnings landscape, though the monthly Revenue Department reports do not shed any light on exactly which sectors of the work force may be earning more.

 

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