Families in Georgia are increasingly falling into poverty, according to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week.
The bureau estimates that the number of married couples in the state that earn below the poverty line increased by 15 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the American Community Survey.
"Poverty can only increase when the middle class decreases," says Joe Whorton, director of the Fanning Institute, a community and economic development outreach group at the University of Georgia. "People who are on the margin between poverty and the middle class, when they find their economic circumstances declining, they're going to slide into poverty."
The statistics come as the percentage of people falling below the poverty level in Georgia was smaller, from 14.3 percent in 2007 to 14.8 percent in 2008.