Sunday, December 9, 2018

Georgia county records lowest broadband internet access in the nation

Percentage of households in Georgia with broadband internet subscriptions, 2017
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Increasingly, having access to high-speed broadband is a necessity for families and businesses looking to strive in the modern world. While many families depend on cellphones, broadband internet is important to access more complicated services that involve longer forms and more complex information.

New information from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the percentage of households in Georgia with access a broadband internet subscription varies widely with metro counties and more affluent counties showing far higher rates than more rural counties and counties with lower income households in Georgia.

Of the 159 counties in Georgia, 17 counties show household broadband internet subscription rates below 50%, while only 55 of the 159 counties showed rates above 70%.

Forsyth and Cherokee counties both recorded household broadband internet subscription rates above 90%. At the other end of the spectrum, Telfair and Wheeler counties recorded household broadband internet subscription rates of less than 25%.

At 24.9%, Telfair County has recorded the nation's lowest broadband subscription rate for counties with a population of more than 10,000 or more.

The 2013-2017 American Community Survey (ACS) estimates that nationally, 78% of households subscribe to the internet, but households in both rural and lower-income counties trail the national average by 13 points.

The Census Bureau defines broadband internet subscriptions as any service that is capable of delivering faster speeds than “dial up” — no longer used by most, but still used by less than 1 percent of households nationally.

Households without broadband internet connections are less able to fully participate in American society, whether that means reaching educational sources or conducting job searches.

Access to a broadband internet connection is becoming crucial, not only to access information but to interact with government agencies, as government agencies are requiring citizens to access their services via websites that are replacing local offices as the primary source of information and support.

As governments look to cut costs, they are looking to websites to provide services.

In Georgia, this includes services to lower income families including applying for Medical Assistance, Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-SNAP), PeachCare for Kids, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

All of these services are accessed through the online Georgia Gateway, the home of Georgia's eligibility determination system for a number of social benefit programs.

With the Georgia General Assembly planning to focus on rural issues in their upcoming 2019 session, hopefully broadband internet access will be one of their top topics next year.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Georgia’s largest counties post solid employment gains but wages continue to lag nation


Employment grew in 9 of Georgia’s 10 largest counties from June 2017 to June 2018, according to newly released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide, Georgia added 87,732 jobs, an increase of nearly 2% compared to the nation’s growth of 1.5%. Combined, the 9 largest counties accounted for a net addition of 43,440 new jobs.  The state’s 9 largest counties accounted for almost half of the state’s new jobs with the other half coming from the state’s remaining 150 counties. (Georgia has a total of 159 counties, more than any state with the exception of Texas.)

While employment in the state outpaced the nation for the 12 months ending in June, average weekly wages continued lag the national average as the state adds more jobs but at lower wages.

As of the second quarter of 2018, the average weekly wage in Georgia was $979, 7% below the national average of $1,055. Over the past year, weekly wages in Georgia grew by 2.2% compared to national wage growth of 3.3%.

Employment Changes June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area) recorded the largest numerical job increase (20,620), while Hall County (which constitutes the Gainesville, Georgia MSA) showed the largest percentage increase (2.6%) over the year.

Of the 10 largest counties in the state, only Bibb County (part of the Macon, Georgia MSA) reported stagnant employment. Two counties showed employment growth of less than 1% over the year with Clayton County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) growing by only 615 jobs, while employment in Richmond County (part of the Augusta, Georgia MSA) increased by only 551 jobs.



10-year Employment Changes

Over the past 10 years, employment growth in Georgia has outpaced the nation. From June 2008 to June 2018, Georgia added 382,194 new jobs, an increase of 9.4% compared to the national increase of 7.9%.

Job growth has been concentrated in 8 of the 10 largest counties, which accounted for an increase of 266,057 jobs over the decade, or more than two-thirds of the state’s total job growth. As of June 2018, those 8 counties accounted for 53% of total employment in the state, up from 51% in June 2008.

Employment increases in the 8 counties over the decade ranged from 17.9% for Fulton County to 1% for DeKalb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

Declines occurred in the middle Georgia counties of Bibb, which lost 2,994 jobs over the decade, as well as Muscogee (part of the Columbus, Georgia MSA), which suffered a net loss of 1,767 jobs.

Changes in Average Weekly Wage June 2017 to June 2018

Fulton County continued to report the highest average weekly wage among the state’s largest counties at $1,353 per week, an increase of 1.8% over the year. Clayton County showed the greatest percentage increase with average weekly wages rising by 5.5%.

Cobb County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA) recorded the only average weekly wage decline over the 12 months, dropping an average of $3 to $1,067 per week.



10-year Wage Growth

Georgia wages, already below the national average in 2008, continued to grow slower than the nation over the past decade. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2018, average weekly wages in Georgia rose 24.6% compared to a national increase of 25.4%.

All 10 of the largest counties in the state showed wage increases over the decade with both Clayton and Hall counties showing percentage growth above the national average. Ten-year average wage growth in the counties ranged from 33.8% for Clayton County to 15.6% in Gwinnett County (part of the Atlanta, Georgia MSA).

As of the second quarter of 2018, Muscogee County recorded the lowest average weekly wage among the 10 largest counties in the state at $797, more than 18% below the state’s average and more than 24% below the national average.

Data in this report comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. More information is available at https://www.bls.gov/cew/.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

New semester sees renewed effort by labor union to organize workers at University of Georgia and Georgia Gwinnett College



With the start of the fall semester, the United Campus Workers of Georgia is beginning its “living wage campaign” at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The implementation of new guidelines for the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) at UGA in 2016 was the impetus for starting the union organizing effort. According to UCWGA, over 3000 workers were affected negatively by UGA's administrators implementation of FLSA. 

Since then, the organizing campaign has taken on new issues affecting UGA employees.

On August 11, the labor union sponsored a Living Wage Picnic at the Bishop Park Pavilion in Athens.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator for the state of Georgia and open records acquired by UCWGA, revealed that for UGA employees, annual salaries differ drastically among staff members. Service and maintenance workers may not always make a living wage.

The Red and Black newspaper reports that “other rights UCWGA has fought for include free parking for employees. The labor union held an event in June asking UGA to alter its parking pass system — previously, there was no free parking on campus, and all employees had to pay a maximum price of $40 per month for a spot that is not guaranteed to be in their desired location.”

This fall the university is offering a $10-per-month park-n-ride parking lot. The park-n-ride allows UGA employees and students to buy a parking pass and then take the campus bus to their desired location from 6:55 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

UCWGA is part of the Communications Workers of America and is designated as CWA Organizing Local 3265. The local has expanded its efforts to include organizing workers at Georgia Gwinnett College

The efforts in Athens and in Gwinnett County may take on added interest as the Georgia Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, is a graduate of UGA and continues to reside in the Athens area.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Georgia’s unemployment rate is good but it has been better in the past


Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped down to 4.1% in June (seasonally adjusted), a decrease of 0.1 percentage point over the month and a drop of 0.6 percentage points since June 2017.

Nonfarm employment in the state rose by 14,200 in June and has increased by 77,300 jobs since June 2017.

In the press release announcing the June 2018 preliminary data, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is quoted:

“Georgia’s labor force and job market are as big as they have ever been, and they continue to grow.”  

The statement implies but left unsaid that the state’s current job market is the best it has ever been, which is misleading.

While the unemployment rate is technically true and even though these are good numbers, it should be noted that the current unemployment rate is not unprecedented.

Georgia’s labor force has grown as its population increased over the past two decades, so a larger labor force in a good economy is to be expected but the June 2018 unemployment rate of 4.1% is higher than the numbers reported by the state prior and during part of the 2001 recession.

Georgia consistently posted unemployment rates below 4% between May 1999 and July 2001, according to data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here is a comparison of the June 2001 and June 2018 (Data are seasonally adjusted.).


June 2001
June 2018
National unemployment rate
4.5%
4.0%



Georgia unemployment rate
3.8%
4.1%
Georgia unemployed
159,735
210,613
Georgia employed
4,087,435
4,944,742
Georgia labor force
4,247,170
5,155,355
Georgia nonfarm Employment
3,974,700
4,533,300

The state’s labor force has expanded by over 900,000 people, so that even with the current low unemployment rate, more people are unemployed now than 17 years ago.

For the state’s unemployment rate to match the June 2001 figure, an additional 16,700 people would have to be employed in June 2018 meaning that June’s increase in nonfarm employment grew at only half the pace needed to match the June 2001 figures.

Also, in the press release announcing the June 2018 preliminary data, it stated that

“Construction in particular is continuing to have a very strong year, seeing growth of 8.8 percent over the year. This is the largest year-over-year percent gain since August 1999.”

Again, technically the Georgia Department of Labor is correct, but that still puts construction employment below the level it achieved back in June 2001.

In June 2001, construction employment in Georgia stood at 208,600, 9.000 more jobs than in June 2018.

The bad news is that by June 2001, unemployment rates were already rising in Georgia, and the state has yet to see a return to the levels reached at the beginning of the century.

The good news is that Georgia’s employment situation may have further gains before the next recession begins.

Several more good months of a strong national economy, and Georgia may once again see a steady stream of monthly unemployment rates in the 3 percent range.

When Georgia’s unemployment rate falls below the levels recorded back in 1999-2000, and when real wages in the state appreciably rise, then the state agency can brag that “Georgia labor market sets records”.

Here is the full news release issued by the Georgia Department of Labor.


Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that Georgia once again set records for employed residents, labor force and jobs for June, continuing a trend from recent months.  
The state is approaching the 5-million mark for employed residents. At the same time, Georgia posted more than 4.5 million jobs and a labor force of almost 5.2 million.
Meanwhile, the jobless rate dropped to a level not seen since 2001 even as the national rate ticked up .2 percent.
“While the nation’s jobs and unemployment numbers are beginning to level off, Georgia continues to improve across just about every metric,” said Butler. “Georgia remains one of the premier states in which to live and work.”

In June, Georgia hit a record high 4.94 million employed residents. That number was up by 15,345 over the month and by more than 123,452 since last June.
Likewise, Georgia’s labor force continued to climb, increasing by 10,401 in June to a record high of about 5.1 million. It has grown by 97,510 over the last 12 months.
Georgia’s June unemployment rate came in at 4.1 percent, down .1 percent over the last month. The state rate was 4.7 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate is slightly better at 4 percent, though the gap has narrowed over the last year.
Jobs were also up by 14,200 in June to over 4.5 million, an all-time high. Over the past 12 months, Georgia added 77,300 jobs.
Butler said all of these numbers continue trends going back many months.
“Georgia’s labor force and job market are as big as they have ever been, and they continue to grow,” said Butler. 
Most of those job gains came in the professional business services; other services; and the trade, transportation, and utilities industry.
Over the past year, Georgia has added more than 10,000 jobs in each of the following sectors: trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; construction; and leisure and hospitality. Construction in particular is continuing to have a very strong year, seeing growth of 8.8 percent over the year. This is the largest year-over-year percent gain since August 1999.
“When you see that big of a jump in construction jobs over the year, that points to a strong economy,” said Butler.
The number of unemployment claims filed in June was down about 2 percent and remain down by nearly 15 percent over the last year.  
There were 57,752 jobs posted on employgeorgia.com during June. Of those jobs, 36 percent were for STEM occupations. 

DATA FOR THE METRO AREAS ARE ATTACHED. TABLES AND GRAPHS REFLECTING LABOR MARKET DATA ARE AVAILABLE AT http://dol.georgia.gov/current-labor-force-data-and-graphs

NEWS MEDIA NEEDING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION MAY CALL (404) 232-3685 


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Trade Wars? Savannah, Georgia, should be worried


Since the last recession, the Savannah area has been on a growth spurt.

After suffering through the national recession, the Savannah area has added nearly 30,000 new jobs resulting in employment growth of almost 20% since 2009.

That growth rate is just shy of the Atlanta area’s growth rate and faster than statewide Georgia, which saying something for a state that continually ranks among the fastest growing states in the nation.

Walking east down River Street in Savannah, past the crowds of tourists and the gift shops and restaurants on your right, you might be deceived into thinking that the city’s growth is due to tourism, but the key to Savannah lies in looking to your left as you watch the large container ships that move past the city on the Savannah River..

The Port of Savannah is home to the largest single container terminal in North America with the largest concentration of import distribution centers on the East Coast, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.

This is a city that remains dependent on trade.




Employment based on moving goods

Although nationally services are now a larger contributor to GDP than goods, the movement of commodities and goods, imports and exports, remain the lifeblood of ports like Savannah.

Significant numbers of workers are employed moving the millions of pounds of materials and merchandise that flow through the Savannah port each year.

More than 10% of the Savannah area’s workers are employed in transportation and material moving occupations, a much larger share of the area’s employment compared to the 7% share of workers nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Survey.

According to BLS, 17,810 workers are employed in transportation and material moving occupations in the Savannah area. These include:

·         2,110 industrial truck and tractor drivers with wages averaging $40,270
·         2,790 heavy truck and tractor trailer truck drivers with wages averaging $43,170
·         7,270 laborers and material movers with wages averaging $31,550

In addition, there are occupations specific to a port that provide well-above average pay including 280 transportation inspectors with an average salary of $65,610 and 180 captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels with an average salary of $77,070.

Savannah’s future tied to its port

"Georgia is home to both the single largest container and roll-on/roll-off facilities in North America." Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said during the 50th annual Georgia Foreign Trade Conference.

The Ports Authority, which oversees the Port of Savannah, has no plans to slow its expansion. Its executive director recently announced plans to double container cargo by 2028, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“To move that cargo, the GPA's 2028 strategic plan calls for 42 ship-to-shore cranes, new lanes for the gantries that stack containers and a significant expansion of intermodal operations. Ground will be broken next month for a new rail yard at Savannah, while the GPA soon will open its second inland terminal in Northwest Georgia.

Trade through Georgia's ports grew to more than 4 million TEUs last year, up from 2.8 million tons of containerized cargo in 2010. Ro/ro cargo has expanded to more than 640,000 units a year. Cargo of all types crossing all docks has grown from 25 million tons to 35 million tons since 2010.”

Threat of tariffs

All that expansion is threatened if tariffs being proposed by the U.S. and China result in a slowdown of trade. A trade war with China could not come at worse time.

In 2016, the Panama Canal completed its largest expansion since its opening in 1914.

“The Expansion included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway, creating a third lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. It also included the creation of the Pacific Access Channel, improvement to the navigational channels, and improvements to the water supply.”


The Savannah port is in the midst of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), which will deepen the Savannah River to 47 feet at mean low water to accommodate these larger so-called New Panamax ships to better serve Asian markets, and specifically China.

A trade war would be negative to the port in two ways. It could curtail Georgia’s planned future growth that is focused on Asian markets, and it could cause China to shift its exports to Europe thus creating new competition for American goods and commodities that would then have to compete with Chinese goods in the EU market.

So far, the trade war has been all rhetoric with no plans to actually implement proposed tariffs until May or June, giving politicians plenty of time to reconsider their decisions.

WABE in Atlanta looked at the impact of tariffs on the state and quoted Raymond Hill, a lecturer at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, as stating that he doubts the tariffs will make much of an impact here.

“It’s gonna have a little bit of significance probably for, you know, people who grow almonds in California, but even then we’re talking about a 15 percent tariff, so it probably won’t have that much effect, even on the products that were selected,” Hill says.

Maybe living in Atlanta, which is currently in the midst of its own growth spurt, clouds one’s perspective, but a trade war that slows shipping in and out of the Port of Savannah will significantly impact the port and consequently an important part of Georgia’s economic engine.

Fewer container ships finding their way up the Savannah River should raise concerns for everyone in the state.




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Georgia follows the nation in declining unemployment rate, higher employment-population ratio for 2017


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Georgia’s average annual unemployment rate declined in 2017 and was one of 17 states whose rate was not significantly different than the nation’s 4.4% average annual unemployment rate, according to newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Georgia’s annual average unemployment rate for decreased by 0.7 percentage points from 5.4% in 2016 to 4.7% in 2017.

Overall, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 32 states and were little changed or unchanged in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

Among the states, Alaska recorded the highest average unemployment rate at 7.2%.

Five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and North Dakota, reported unemployment rates below 3%.

Employment-Population Ratio


Georgia’s ratio of people employed to the state’s population rose from 59.1 in 2016 to 60.2 in 2017, an increase of 1.1 percentage points.

The ratio was not statistically different from the nation’s rate of 60.1.

At the end of the 20th Century, Georgia’s ratio was 66.8 but then declined to a low of 57.4 in 2010 before slowing climbing over the past seven years.

Georgia’s 2017 ratio exceeded the employment-population ratios of the states surrounding Georgia, including Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee, all of which were below 59.

The employment-population ratio is the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and older that is employed.

Economists continue to argue over whether the employment-population ratio can be substantially increased from these levels. Arguments that the ratio cannot move up significantly include an aging population and more people who have permanently left the workforce because of the effects of disability or for other reasons.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Athens Georgia Radio Station Refuses to Run Union-paid Advertising


United Campus Workers of Georgia are facing an uphill battle in just getting the right to be heard in their fight to unionize University of Georgia employees.

The latest is a report in the Athens Flagpole magazine stating that a radio station in Athens refused to run the organization’s ads stating that the “organization's objectives are not consistent with the free market principles on which our organization was founded.”  

UCW of Georgia is now chartered as CWA Organizing Local 3265 and is soliciting membership among University of Georgia employees. The local claims to now have approximately 100 members.

It appears that radio station is not that interested in the free market, as the union was willing to pay for the advertising time rather than asking for free airtime.

In a competitive free market, the radio station should have accepted the ads and the payment. Then, if it wished, it could solicit advertising that disputed the union’s efforts. Instead, it chose to ignore the marketplace and not accept the advertising.

As a result of its action, the radio station lost revenue and gave the group more publicity than if it had simply been willing to run the advertising charging its usual rates.

According to the news story, at least one local pharmacy, Hodgson’s Pharmacy, has pulled its ads from the station.

It would be wise for the radio station’s management to reconsider its refusal and allow a diversity of voices to be heard.

Ironically, the radio station calls itself, the Sound of Athens. It appears that it wants to be the voice for only a part of the Athens community.

Monday, January 22, 2018

United Campus Workers of Georgia @ University of Georgia affiliates with Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

(Photo from The Red and Black)

The United Campus Workers of Georgia has been officially chartered by the Communications Workers of America (AFL-CIO) as UCW-GA / CWA Organizing Local 3265​.

According to its website:

“We at United Campus Workers of Georgia are striving to create a forum where all voices are heard and respected. We envision a broad alliance reaching every sector of the UGA workforce and call on all employees at UGA to band together to fight for the working conditions of all on campus.” 

On its website, UCW-GA has posted a Campus Workers Bill of Rights that includes:

1.       A living wage and just compensation: We have the right to a base salary high enough to provide for our families to live a decent life without reliance on governmental assistance or private charity, and to salaries that are equitable with wages paid at peer institutions and in private employment.
2.       Job protection: We have the right to jobs protected from the threat of privatization, outsourcing, and subcontracting. We have the right to employment that is not “at will,” and to not be terminated except for just cause.
3.       A Right to Organize: We have the right to organize labor unions; to official recognition of our union; and to the ability to “meet and confer” with officials at the departmental, institutional, and state levels on all issues of concern.  We have the right to freely conduct meetings on non-working hours; to petition for redress of grievances; to deduct dues from paychecks; and ultimately to bargain collectively in order to protect and advance our collective interests.
4.       Due Process: We have the right to a grievance procedure that includes the right to grieve all matters that can impact safety, evaluations, raises, transfers, layoffs, promotions, and disciplinary actions, and we have the right to representation of our choice at all levels.
5.       Non-discrimination: We have the right to a workplace free from harassment, exploitation, and discrimination. We have the right to receive fair and equal treatment, opportunities, pay, and benefits regardless of our religion, race, nationality, immigration history, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, or political orientation. We have the right to equal pay for equal work.
6.       Adequate benefits: We have the right to guaranteed comprehensive health care; to an adequate retirement; to paid vacations and / or sabbaticals; to paid parental leave; and to tuition remission or adequate funding for educational opportunities for us and our families, including partner benefits.
7.       Safe Workplaces: We have the right to a safe and secure working environment with adequate training and the proper safety equipment necessary to perform our duties; to timely and effective corrective measures to our health and safety concerns; and to refuse dangerous work when proper safety precautions are not adequately met.
8.       Governance: We have the right to participate in determining the content and direction of the institution, including freely elected representation on governing bodies, and without fear of retaliation for expressing our views.
9.       Universal inclusion: All university employees, regardless of status or job classification, have the right to be treated equally with regard to all of these rights. Adjunct and contingent faculty especially have the right to work without exploitation and to be transitioned to real employment.

The creation of the UCW-GA follows the ongoing efforts to organize university workers in Tennessee, which has chapters on a number of campuses in Tennessee including UT-Knoxville.

In a news article published by The Red and Black, which claims to be the largest college newspaper in Georgia, the UCW-GA chapter reports that it has 70 members and “hopes to continue advocating for fair pay and benefits during this semester, starting with the State of the University address Wednesday, Jan. 24, where union members will be handing out postcards which state the organization’s platform.”


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Focus on job losses in Georgia's rural counties

The Georgia House Rural Development Council has released its plan to reverse declines in Georgia’s rural population.

Statewide, Georgia has seen remarkable employment growth since the recession. Following the combined loss of 329,000 jobs in 2008 and 2009, the state has added more than 670,000 jobs.

State of Georgia, QCEW Total Employment

Unfortunately, not all of Georgia’s 159 counties have fared so well. While for metro areas in the state, including Atlanta and Savannah, have done well, 10 years later 43 counties still show employment levels below those prior to the beginning of the recession.

While the continuing growth in the national and state’s economy will allow some of those 43 counties to finally grow above their pre-recession employment levels, for a few of the counties, the gap between pre-recession employment and current employment levels remains large.

Among those still suffering from the economic downturn, the counties of Ben Hill, Mitchell, and Murray are still showing net job losses of 25% or more 10 years later.

Employment in Ben Hill County has fallen by a net of 2,000 jobs, Mitchell County by 2,100, and Murray County by 3,200 jobs since 2007.

Ben Hill County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment
Mitchell County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Murray County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Losses in Construction and Manufacturing Key Indicators

For all three counties, job losses in construction and manufacturing have been major contributors to the overall decline in employment.

Manufacturing was a significant employer in all three rural counties. Ben Hill and Mitchell counties, located in rural South Georgia, have lost more than 1,100 manufacturing jobs each; while Murray County, located in North Georgia on the Tennessee border, has posted a 2,300 job decline in manufacturing.

In Ben Hill, construction employment has declined 75%, while the industry has recorded declines of more than 60% in Mitchell and Murray counties.

Not surprisingly, as jobs disappeared, people have moved to find more opportunities. While Georgia’s population continues to grow, the Census Bureau is estimating population drops in all three of these counties.

Growing Industries

Despite the overall declines in these counties, some industries have seen employment increases, although these have not been sufficient to stem the overall drops in jobs.

Ben Hill County has added a net 72 more jobs in natural resources and mining, while its professional and business services sector has grown by 165 jobs since 2007.

In Mitchell County, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 22 jobs over the past decade.

For Murray County, employment growth has centered on professional and business services, up by 382 jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry has added 42 jobs.

Legislature wants to reverse this trend

Efforts by the counties alone are unlikely to repair the employment damage done by the past recession. Even state intervention may be inadequate as there are few successful models of rural rejuvenation in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Georgia’s lawmakers have at least identified the problem and the legislature is now looking for ways to reverse it, but this task will not be easy or quick.

Read the full recommendations from the House Rural Development Council here