The so-called Great Recession was especially tough on low- and middle-income Georgians. A new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analysis finds it erased the wage and wealth gains they had made going back to the early 1990s.
Families’ median income was just under $46,000 in 2011, the same as 1990 and almost $10,000 from its peak. In total, Georgians’ wages fell more than 5 percent during the recession -- only three other states saw bigger declines – with drops of about 3 percent for top earners and a third for the middle class.
“Poor Georgians, or the bottom 20 percent, lost about two-thirds of the wage gains that they had achieved before the recession hit. So there’s a little bit of a disproportionate impact on working Georgians versus those top 20 percent of earners,” said Wesley Tharpe, a policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.
Tharpe said the good news is that job growth is starting to pick up, but it still has a long climb.
“In the Great Recession, we lost about 340,000 jobs and we’ve only gained back about a third of those during the recovery,” Tharpe said. “The job growth is great, but we’re digging out of such a huge hole that it is going to take a while to get back to where we were.”
Only five states lost more jobs than Georgia after the recession started in 2007.
But the state labor department reported 36,000 new jobs last month, the highest September-to-October increase ever.