A look at Poverty in Georgia by the numbers

Earlier this week the latest and probably last snippet of the infamous Tippins recording was released. In this short audio clip, Cagle can be heard to say that he wants to cut poverty in half. The snippet was released by a person from the Hunter Hill campaign who placed third. Hill just endorsed Brian Kemp today. This audio was obviously meant to hurt Cagle, but it has a lot of people scratching their heads as to why cutting poverty in half is a bad thing. Here are a few comments from Twitter.

As a Democrat myself, I rarely understand the thinking or logic of Georgia Republicans. Republicans in the South are actually quite a different animal from Republicans in other parts of the country with very different priorities. But I am completely flummoxed as to why such a noble goal of getting hundreds of thousands of Georgia families out of the grips of dire poverty could possibly be considered a negative.

I think it’s important to know exactly how much poverty exists in Georgia so I have dug through the numbers. According to Talk Poverty here are the latest numbers for Georgia for 2017. You can also visit Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity for even more data on poverty in Georgia.

Georgia Population: 10,040,201

Number in Poverty: 1,603,013

Gender & Age

Overall Percentage: 16% RANKED: 41ST

Children: 22.6% RANKED: 41ST

Working-Age Women: 16.7% RANKED: 40TH

Working-Age Men: 12.1% RANKED: 34TH

Race & Ethnicity

African American 22.5%
Asian American 12.0%
Latino 24.3%
Native American 28.8%
White 11.9%

Creating Good Jobs

Income Inequality 16.6 RANKED: 39TH

Unemployment 5.4% RANKED: 39TH

High School Graduation 78.8% RANKED: 40TH

Disconnected Youth 17.0%  – RANKED: 42ND (Percentage of youth ages 18 to 24 without high school degrees who were not in school or working in 2015)

Higher Education Attainment 39.3% – RANKED: 36TH (Percentage of young adults ages 25 to 34 who had an associate’s degree or higher in 2016)

Gender Wage Gap 81.9¢ RANKED: 17TH

Strengthening Families and Communities

Children Living Apart from Parents 4.0 Kids RANKED: 8TH  (Children that lived in foster care for every 1,000 children under age 18 in 2015)

Teen Birth rate 25.6 births RANKED: 33RD  (Births that took place for every 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2015)

Promoting Family Economic Security

Hunger and Food Insecurity 14.0% RANKED: 32ND (Percentage of households who were food insecure on average from 2014 to 2016, meaning that at some point during the year, they experienced difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of money or resources.)

Affordable Housing 52.0 Units RANKED: 41ST  (Number of apartments or other units that were affordable and available for every 100 renter households with very low incomes in 2015. Very low-income households are those with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income.)

Assets and Savings 10.4% RANKED: 40TH  (Percentage of households that used high-cost, high-risk forms of credit to make ends meet during 2015. This includes payday loans, automobile title loans, refund anticipation loans, rent-to-own, and pawning.)

Unemployment Insurance 12.5% RANKED: 48TH (Percentage of unemployed workers who received unemployment insurance in 2016)

Health Insurance Coverage 26.5% RANKED: 50TH  (Percentage of people under age 65 and below 138 percent of the poverty line who did not have health insurance at any time in 2016)

The Big Lie

For years Republicans have been claiming that Georgia is the number one state for business. This is a complete lie and I thoroughly dispelled that myth in this article Georgia is NOT the No. 1 State for Business! The reason I mention this topic in an article dealing with poverty is because they used the #1 for business lie as a counterpoint to the high poverty rate in Georgia. In other words, if Georgia is a great place to do business that means you have no reason not to have a job or live in poverty. Of course the reality is hundreds of thousands of Georgians work full-time and often have more than one job and still are firmly in the grips of poverty.

Unless you choose not to notice, poverty is all around and has been increasing during Republican Governors over the last sixteen years. Sonny Perdue was Governor starting in 2003. In his very first year the poverty rate increased 1.5%. Although the poverty rate has dipped slightly to 16% from a high of 19.2% in 2012 it still remains among the worst in the country.

At the height of Georgia’s worst year back in 2012, Neil deMause wrote a very detailed article on Slate called Georgia’s Hunger Games which outlines many of the reasons the rate was and still is so high compared to other states.  I highly recommend you read the entire article to gain a much deeper understanding of the problems facing the poor in Georgia. Here is an excerpt.

Cassie, a single mom in the western Atlanta suburb of Austell, is one of those who have been turned away for child care assistance because the state ran out of money. After her partner skipped town when he learned their son had a chronic blood disorder—”He said, ‘You’re going to have to eventually send me to child support court, and when you do that I never want to see y’all again’ “—Cassie found herself juggling shifts as a nursing aide while managing her son’s frequent hospital visits. She applied for TANF, only to be forced to drop out of school for her degree as an ultrasound sonographer, she says, in order to have time for the grueling job search process.

As her 2-year-old son scampers about a vacant office at the Sweetwater Valley Community Action Mission Program where she’s come to seek some help, Cassie explains that—like nearly 2 million other Georgians, almost 20 percent of the state—she receives federal food stamp benefits, which help put groceries on the table. But they won’t pay for non-food items, which is why she’s turned up at this private charity in suburban Cobb County in search of diapers.

Conclusion

Before your write me off as some bleeding-heart liberal that only wants to raise taxes and hand out freebies, that is simply untrue. I understand the importance of having a job and the pride that comes with supporting yourself and your family from you own income. I believe in workfare over welfare for able-bodied adults capable of work. But I also realize many in Georgia are uninsured which creates a vicious cycle of poverty that makes it hard to escape.  If you have had chronic hypertension or diabetes for years which has gone untreated it makes it very unlikely you will be healthy enough to hold a job.  I understand the crushing debt often caused from predatory lenders that prey on the poor that prevents many people from moving up the economic ladder. I  understand  a lot of people in poverty have worked their whole lives and paid taxes but are now in desperate need of help with no where to turn. I also understand that in the richest country in the history of the world we can and should do much more to help.

Poverty is a very complex problem and it requires complex solutions. I do not pretend to have all the answers. I still firmly believe that Stacey Abrams is far more capable of  reducing the poverty rate and Cagle would likely continue the failed policies of his predecessors.  But the one thing I know with absolute certainty is that no politician should ever be castigated or ridiculed for expressing a desire to cut the poverty rate in Georgia by half which would still leave over 800,000  in poverty. The desire to cut poverty should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. It is a human issue and anyone not understanding this or trying to gain political points has no business  serving in government at any level.

 

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  1. AnnMarie Haight August 9, 2018 Reply

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