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Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 12:59pm

Poverty Rate Soars in Georgia

New figures from the U.S. Census show poverty is rising in Albany’s Dougherty County faster than in any of the state’s largest counties. The county had the nation’s second-highest jump in poverty since 2007.

The poverty rate in Dougherty County jumped 12 points to 36 percent of its residents. A family of four living in poverty earns about $22,000 a year.

Dougherty County and other parts of Southwest Georgia reflect a deepening of poverty in many parts of the state. Georgia has the fifth highest percentage of people living in what’s called deep poverty.

Clare Richie with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute explains what that means:

“If you can imagine a family of four trying to survive on $11,000 a year; we have three quarters of a million of Georgians living in that scenario," she said. "That needs to be a wakeup call that we can do better."

Georgia was among the states with the lowest personal income growth in the second quarter of 2011, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The state’s unemployment rate in August was 10.2 percent, unchanged from the year before.

The number of Georgians living in poverty has climbed to 1.7 million, since 2007. The data also shows that Georgia’s median income dropped to a decade-low of $46,000.

“With our unemployment hovering around 10 percent and half a million Georgians out of work, this combination of high unemployment and low median income paints somewhat of a grim picture,” she said.

Richie said one in four children are now living in poverty in Georgia. She said that will have implications for how well they do in school and their ability to land a good job and build a stable career.

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