ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) is pleased to announce the release of the “State of Working Georgia 2023” report, authored by Ray Khalfani, Senior Analyst for Worker Justice and Criminal Legal Systems. This groundbreaking report offers a comprehensive analysis of the current state of Georgia’s workforce and highlights significant disparities that often go unnoticed when traditional, race-neutral metrics are used.
Key Findings from the Report:
- Despite a low overall unemployment rate of 3.3%, the report uncovers the disproportionate impact of federal inflation-fighting efforts on Black, Brown, and low-income Georgians.
- Black workers, who achieved landmark employment levels in mid-2022, have experienced 60% more unemployment spells than their white counterparts.
- Workers in their prime working ages (25 to 54), particularly Black and Hispanic individuals, have seen eroding employment levels, while white workers continue to experience an uptick in employment, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
- Low-income workers in Georgia witnessed substantial pay growth (21%) from 2019 to 2022, but their buying power only increased by 4% due to inflation.
The report calls on Georgia lawmakers to:
- Evaluate the Georgia economy based on a more comprehensive labor force lens that considers race, ethnicity and gender, rather than just overall unemployment rates.
- Increase Georgia’s minimum wage from $5.15 to a fair and equitable level and index it in proportion to economic growth.
- Remove barriers that minimize workers’ ability to bargain collectively.
- Allow local governments to establish their own labor policies, including minimum wage and address unfair labor practices, such as wage theft and unethical scheduling practices.
- Reform Georgia’s criminal legal system, which has the most people under carceral control per capita among all democracies worldwide.
- Improve postsecondary education training options and affordability by investing in a comprehensive, racial equity-centered plan to track and address digital skills gaps and track workforce training program-level outcomes under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
- Adequately fund unemployment insurance to support workers’ economic security if they lose a job through no fault of their own.
GBPI urges policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to take note of these findings and to work collaboratively to address the disparities revealed in the report.
Statement by Senior Analyst Ray Khalfani, GBPI:
“We cannot overlook the stark realities revealed in the ‘State of Working Georgia 2023’ report. While Georgia’s job market may have shown resilience in the face of economic challenges amid Federal Reserve inflation-fighting policies, it’s evident that certain communities, particularly Black, Brown, and low-income Georgians, continue to face significant economic disparities. It is imperative that we view our state’s job market through a lens of racial equity and commit to worker-centered policies that break down the barriers hindering the progress of our workforce. Georgia can only thrive when every community has an equal opportunity to succeed.”
To access the full “State of Working Georgia 2023” report, please visit the following LINK.