Showing posts with label georgia government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label georgia government. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2020

How bad is Georgia hurting? State receives first $85 million installment of $1.1 billion loan request for unemployment trust fund

 

In June, the Tax Foundation published a study of state unemployment insurance trust funds. 
Georgia ranked at #21 out of 50. Since then, the picture has continued to deteriorate.
Map Source: Tax Foundation

Before March, Georgia looked to have one of the more solvent unemployment insurance trust funds. 

That is no longer true, as Georgia is receiving an $85 million loan to replenish its unemployment trust fund, which is quickly running out of cash as the state’s insured unemployment rate remains elevated.

The funds are the first installment of a $1.1 billion request made to the U.S. Department of Treasury by Governor Kemp, as reported by The Center Square

Figures from the most recent Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report published by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 633,988 people in Georgia were receiving unemployment insurance benefits as of July 25, 2020, in contrast to the 25,618 people who received them a year ago. 

As of the end of July, the state’s insured unemployment rate stood at 14.4%. 

The Georgia Department of Labor announced that as of July 28, 2020, the trust fund balance was $585,483,621, down $1.962 billion, or 77 percent, from the March 24 balance of $2,547,476,454.  

Last month, Governor Kemp as the U.S. Department of Treasury to loan Georgia $85 million in August, $585 million in September, and $430 million in October. The current loan is the first installment related to that request. 

States that receive loans are expected to repay that money to the U.S. Treasury by either increasing state’s payroll tax on employers or from general funds. 

Interest is usually paid from the state’s general fund, and payroll taxes will most likely increase, potentially hurting workers and employers, Greg Georgia, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State University, told The Center Square. 

"When the state has to borrow money to supplement that fund now, that's probably general fund spending," George said. "So, it's just a way of spreading the pain to the broader taxpayer base." 

In June, the Tax Foundation conducted an analysis of the solvency of states’ unemployment insurance trust funds and noted that Georgia ranked 21st in its solvency level at 1.25. Any state with a solvency level of 1.0 or greater was deemed to have unemployment insurance sufficient to weather a recession. 

California ranked worse at number 50 with a solvency level of 0.21, while Vermont controlled the most solvent of the state trust funds with a solvency rank of 2.53. 

Despite the high number of claims being paid weekly by the Georgia Department of Labor, there are still accusations that the department has failed to pay all claims dating back to the middle of March. 

The state says it has paid benefits on 92% of valid claims since March. 

“As additional claims are being filed, we have been able to maintain an impressive ratio of eligible claims filed to payouts,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Record breaking payout rates represent a new standard for this department as we strive to better serve Georgians.”


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.