Gov. Nathan Deal gave his third state-of-the-state speech today but offered nothing more than political rhetoric and empty promises for Georgia’s working families.
Frankly, we aren’t surprised that Gov. Deal doesn’t want to tell voters the truth about the dire condition of the state’s economy.
When you look at all the data, it’s clear that Georgia’s economy is sick and getting sicker, especially for working Georgians who continue to struggle with the aftermath of the Great Recession.
In the past few years, Georgians have seen two decades worth of economic progress disappear. Gov. Deal’s policies have done nothing to address the state’s most critical problems but have instead cut critical commitments to education, job training, health care and transportation.
Gov. Deal is leading the state at a time when low- and middle-income families are stuck with historically high unemployment, depressed wages, shrunken incomes and historically high poverty.
Meanwhile, Gov. Deal has pursued a policy of bone-deep budget cuts that has undermined the state’s ability to fully recover. His policies have deepened the hardships of Georgia families, who are struggling across the board.
Here’s what Gov. Deal ignored today:
- Georgia’s jobs deficit has grown to 404,400. The state’s population rose 4.7 percent during the recession, meaning Georgia needs 196,200 additional jobs just to stay even. To fill the gap, Georgia’s economy would need to add about 14,000 jobs per month for the next three years. Georgia has averaged only 5,000 per month since the start of 2012.
- Georgia is dead last in financial security. Georgia ranked 50th in bankruptcies, 48th in poor credit, 48th in overdue debt and 49th in households without a savings or checking account. These factors put Georgia at the bottom of the “financial security” index produced by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.
- Georgia’s poverty rate is at a 30-year high. Georgia’s poverty rate of 19.1 percent (26.1 percent for children) is severely high, and has not been this high since 1983. The poverty rate has grown every year Gov. Deal has been in office. Georgia’s poverty rate is the 5th highest in the nation.
- Georgia’s median household income dropped more than U.S. average. While the national median household income dropped by $4,554 (-8.3 percent), the drop in Georgia was $7,308 (-13.7 percent). While this drop in income is devastating to individual families, it is also harmful to the state’s economy because families have less disposable income to spend, save or invest. Median net worth fell by 35 percent in Georgia – the sixth largest drop in the nation.
Although Gov. Deal can cherry pick numbers to show some signs of improvement, Georgia’s economic outlook is far from strong as he said this morning.
When you look at a wide range of measures from income to wages to poverty, it’s clear that working families are worse off today than when Gov. Deal took office and much worse off than they were a decade ago.
Georgia needs a more balanced approach to address economic challenges and create an economy that works for everyone.
We need a sustained commitment to education, job training and other vital public investments, which were hallmarks of Georgia’s economic success before the state’s conservative takeover.
Georgia can’t abandon the progressive policies that made the state an economic powerhouse in the 1990s and expect the same results.
To once again lead the South, Georgia must stop with the austerity cuts and return to smart investments such as fully funding public schools, making sure more children are ready to start school on day one through pre-K, fixing the broken HOPE Scholarship and making sure every Georgia resident has access to affordable health care.
 “State of Working Georgia 2012” Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, November 2012
 Economic Policy Institute Analysis of Current Employment Statistics
 Corporation for Enterprise Development
 See 1 above.
 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey; Economic Policy Institute analysis of Current Population Survey 2010, 2011
 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 1 yr Estimates 2007-2011
 See 1 above.
 “Assets and Opportunity Scorecard – Change in Net Worth” Corporation for Enterprise Development, October 2012.