The number of low-income working families in Georgia has grown, even as the economy starts to improve. A study by the Working Poor Families Project finds Georgia doing worse than other states.
Brandon Roberts, author of the report, says “You’re ranked 38th in the country. And what that really means is that when you look at the percentage of low-income working families, where the U.S. average is 32 percent of working families are low income; it’s now risen to 37 percent in Georgia.”
Roberts says heads of these families are working two to three jobs but still struggle to get by.
“These data don’t pertain to families that are not engaged in work that people sometimes typically talk about being the poor or low-income.” he says.
The study found a family of four to be low-income with a salary of $45 thousand or less.
Taifa Butler, deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, says many poor families here are making the same salaries they made 20 years ago.
She says “If you look at income today and you look at income in 1990, it is exactly the same. The two decades have been wiped out from the recession in terms of income growth.”
Many mid-level skill jobs were wiped out in the recession, and Roberts says those jobs aren't coming back.
Butler says temporary assistance to needy families in the state has been cut over the years. She says one thing holding Georgia’s families back is a lack of training.
“Due to the recession our technical college system has seen tremendous cuts. And our higher education, our university system has seen tremendous cuts. Which has resulted in increased tuition costs, increased changes to the HOPE scholarship and the grants program. That has limited access to these particular families who need those skills and training.”she says.
The Working Poor Families Project says the inequity is growing. Nationwide, working families who are well off now make ten times more than the salaries of low-income families.