Middle class incomes are disappearing in Georgia, rapidly being replaced by even greater income inequality, according to a new report from GSU’s Center for State and Local Finance.
And not only are middle-income jobs disappearing, but the median income in Georgia has fallen since 2000. This means that the middle class jobs that are around pay less, even as costs of living in this state have skyrocketed. Factor in cuts to benefits — like employer-funded retirement plans — and being middle class just isn’t what it used to be.
Low-income kids can’t move up the income ladder and we’re seeing growing income stratification (there are lots of people at the top and bottom, and few in the middle). It’s disturbing that we can live in a state and country where some people work full time and still live out of their cars, while other people can spend thousands of dollars on furniture for a porch they never use, without even thinking about it.
“It’s that decrease in the middle, and the increases in the extremes, that result in less compromise, less agreements, more geographic segregation by income, segregation of political views,” said David Sjoquist, one of the report authors, according to Saporta Report.
“Some political scientists and others have suggested that an increasing unequal income is harmful to society and leads to lower growth and political conflict,” Sjoquist said. “They argue there is a cost involved with an increasing unequal income. A declining middle class is indicator of growing inequality of income.”
Our legislature this year offered little in the way of economic development for middle class families. They passed tax breaks for yacht owners. And, at this point, any industry that can rally a few thousand dollars in donations and a half decent lobbying team seem to garner beneficial tax policies (see: used car dealers, music production).
As economist Raj Chetty, who studies income immobility in the US notes, “Your chance of achieving the American Dream is nearly twice as high in Canada relative to the United States.”
Once again, it seems, this state is leaving behind working class and middle class families, and policymakers feel no urgency or shame about it.