FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Clare S. Richie is available for comments and interviews.
ATLANTA – Georgia has the 5thhighest poverty rate in the nation, with children hit the hardest, according to data released today from the U. S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This data highlights the widespread impact of the recession and underscores the need for the state to do more to help struggling Georgians.
Nearly one in five Georgians are living in poverty, and one out of four children in the state are living in poverty. The federal poverty level for a family of four is just $22,150 per year.
“With so many Georgians struggling amid the tough economy, the state needs to step up and help,” said Clare S. Richie, senior policy analyst for the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. “Lawmakers must do more to expand opportunity and help the poor lift themselves out of poverty.”
A number of Georgia counties had notably high rates of poverty, including Clarke (39.6 percent), Bulloch (32.7 percent), and Dougherty (29.1 percent). Nine counties – Bartow, Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Clayton, Dougherty, Lowndes, Richmond, and Troup – have 1 in 3 children living in poverty.
The high rate of poverty among children is especially alarming and is putting their future at risk. Poverty among young children not only affects achievement in school but also reduces their earnings as adults, recent research shows.
At 9.2 percent, Georgia’s unemployment rate is well above the national average. Nearly half a million Georgians are out of work, and there is only one job opening for every five laid-off workers seeking employment.
Median income is also continuing to drop. It reached a new low of $46,007 when adjusted for inflation. As their incomes fall and costs rise, working families are struggling to make ends meet.
Since the recession started, state lawmakers have made deep cuts to health care, education and other key services that struggling families need. In fact, the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) – which assists the elderly, disabled, abused and neglected children, and the poor – lost 20 percent of its funding and had to cut staff as demand for services increased. For example, the number of workers who help families sign up for Food Stamps has dropped by nearly 18 percent, while the number of Food Stamp cases has increased by nearly 73 percent.
“Continuing to rely only on cuts will make it more difficult for working families and the poor to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. We need to take a balanced approach that includes new revenues so we can invest in our state’s economy and provide help for those who need it most,” said Richie.
For more information download GBPI report FY 2013 Budget Analysis: Human Services A Review of the Enacted FY 2013 Budget
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