I’ve been writing a lot lately here on the blog and in my Savannah Morning News columns about the need to focus public policy on job creation and retention.
With the 2012 state legislative session looming, I’m going to be hitting some of these notes repeatedly.
Regrettably, the state’s public and private leaders have done little to deal with the state’s employment crisis — many don’t even want to admit how bad our problems are.
For this post, I’m citing the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s State of Working Georgia 2011, a 15 page document that should be required reading for all Georgia’s state and local politicians.
As you can see, we added jobs quickly in the 1990s, ranking Georgia 7th among the states (plus the District of Columbia). But so far this century, Georgia has ranked 32nd in job growth, with the worst in the nation numbers since the “recovery” began in summer 2009.
I’ve written a lot, too, about income inequality, take a look at how that has played out over the last three decades in Georgia, with the top 20% increasing their average income by more than 30%, while the median income and lower wage workers have made far more modest gains (all numbers adjusted for inflation):
Georgia workers with college degrees have seen their wages increase by 33.2% since 1980, but those without college degrees have had pretty much stagnant incomes.
While Georgia’s 10.7% average unemployment for 2010 sounds bad enough, that’s only part of the data that should worry us. A stunning 30.8% of workers (including 39.7% of male workers) reported working part-time for economic reasons — in other words, they want more hours. A total of 17.9% of workers reported being underemployed. The recession has been particularly hard on men in the state, especially those in fields like construction and manufacturing.
The GBPI document makes a number of specific suggestions, including a bond for new projects that would foster growth, tax reform, continued aid to struggling workers, and increased skills retraining.
I’d suggest taking a look at the entire document: State of Working Georgia 2011; Georgia’s Stalled Recovery Requires Forward-looking Solutions.