If it feels like it’s gotten harder to live, you’re not alone. If you’ve experienced an income that just doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with your expenses, or a tight budget that leaves no room for extras, errors or emergencies, then it’s a good indication you’re part of Georgia’s 99 percent.
A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) revealed that while Georgia’s top 1 percent of earners experienced double digit income growth of 12.3 percent from 2009 to 2013, everybody else experienced negative income growth of -2.7 percent.
What would it be like if your income had grown twelve percent over the past five years? What would it be like if the communities we live in had found the past few years brought more stability instead of less?
The average income for the bottom 99% of Georgia families is $45,567, while the average income of Georgia’s one percenters is $1,153,293. Getting into the top .01% will take a cool $5,435,322, minimum.
Georgia’s top one percent earn in one year, what the average working Georgian earns over a quarter century.
Yes, you read that right. It would take 25 years of earning the average wages of the bottom 99 percent to garner as much as Georgia’s top one percent earn in a single year.
And it gets worse. Compare this average annual income — $45,567 — to the estimated minimum required budget to get by in different parts of Georgia.
For a household comprised of one adult and two children, living in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the EPI estimates it would take $55,813 a year, just to cover the essentials: housing, food, transportation, child care and other necessities to make a household run.
In other metropolitan regions, Georgia families fare no better. That minimum family budget translates to $51,422 for Athens; $55,287 in Savannah; $53,193 for Macon; and $52,969 average across rural Georgia. Nowhere in Georgia are average household earnings on par with the Economic Policy Institute’s minimum standards.
This is incredibly lopsided. And Georgia politicians have repeatedly shown they are more invested in trumping up support for hot button social issues than implementing effective policies to support not just this “middle class” they love talking about, but the 99 percent — the vast majority — of Georgia families struggling to get by.