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Saba Long

Georgia still has a long way to go to recover from the Great Recession

By Saba Long

Among the flurry of press releases pronouncing the rebound of state’s economy, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) released a sobering report this month on the Great Recession’s impact on working and middle class Georgians.

The institute’s State of Working Georgia 2012 report addresses battered annual incomes, decreased wealth, depressed wages and historically high poverty. There’s another Georgia far removed from the cluster of Buckhead A-Class office buildings, the trendy Midtown restaurant scene and the gameday suites.

Household incomes are at historically low levels, the poverty rate has increased, causing more citizens to rely on government aid to stay afloat.

Presently, the state’s median household income — $45,973 — is within a few dollars of the 1990 level, adjusted for inflation, erasing two decades worth of gains. Just before the economic crash, the median peaked at about $55,000. From 2007-2011, the Great Recession deflated Georgians household income by more than $7,000, compared to a roughly $4,500 decrease nationwide.

According to an August Pew study, last year 51 percent of all adults were considered middle class, down from 61 percent, roughly 40 years ago. The 2000s, dubbed the “lost decade”, brought about significant decline in middle and lower income wealth, 28 and 45 percent, respectfully.

In contrast, upper-income Americans experienced a 1 percent increase in median wealth. Property values plummeted by nearly $154 billion in the state in a three-year span, wiping out housing equity — the primary source of wealth for low and middle income families.

Equally troubling, the 2012 financial security index from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) ranks Georgia dead last nationwide due to depleted savings accounts, poor credit and the alarming number of bankruptcies across the state.

During the Great Recession years, the state experienced the third largest increase in the country for citizens living below the poverty line. In fact, more than one in four Georgia children live in poverty.

It is well documented that children from less-advantaged families are less likely to be ready for school at age five, to graduate from high school without going to jail or becoming pregnant and ultimately less likely to graduate from college.

Our population has grown by 4.7 percent in the past three years, yet job gain has not returned to pre-recession levels. The state’s unemployment rate is expected to hover around 8.2 percent through year 2014.

Yes, the state and local governments have been in aggressive in their attempts to stop the economic hemorrhaging. But we must do even more. Now is the time to challenge the work preparedness of our high school juniors and seniors not ready or interested in post secondary education.

Now is the time to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, encourage small business and remove unnecessary red tape for the sake of getting Georgia’s citizens in the black. The state of the state demands it.

Saba Long

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.



  1. Joseph Uncle Joe Hudson November 27, 2012 12:01 pm

    “Black Businesses can participate in leading our Local Communities out of the Economic Doldrums”
    To Governor Deal, Mayor Reed, County Commissioners, and the Business/ Civic leaders of Atlanta and Georgia:
    Think about this, we live region where it is common to see African-American mayors, local and national elected officials, successful Black businesses, along with Blacks heading major corporate operations and institutions.  In our state and region Black media moguls, pop stars, real-estate kingpins, social justice pioneers, doctors, lawyers and engineers, ministers, TV, sports and entertainment stars reign supreme.  It is the number one destination for Black family reunions; the number desired location for Black businesses and has the largest concentration of Black higher educational instructions in the world.  
    Black businesses designed and help build the world’s busiest airport, our subway system, school headquarters, jails, courthouses, along with other major construction projects, plus the Atlanta region contains 15 of the largest Black businesses in America which employ 6,000 people between them. Additionally, Atlanta  is also recognized for the Martin Luther King Center, having hosted the Olympics thanks to Andrew Young and others, The National Black Arts Festival, being the home some of the worlds most famous Black people along with a rich history of civic and business leadership, and a political narrative others still try to emulate.
    Now with all that it is a shame that Blacks are not seen to make a visible contribution to our city or state by many persons and organizations both Black and White.  Recognition means a positive “Front Page” acknowledgement!  If and when the Black business community is recognized it is usually associated with some type of problem, criticism or deflating story. Therefore, it is invisible to the economic decision makers.  And, if no one sees you they won’t acknowledge your contributions nor use your assets!
    It is time for Atlanta and Georgia to remove the cloak of invisibility and recognize the asset value of Black Atlanta and to stop trying to discourage its economic efforts. Our region must join in the effort to strengthen this important community for the good of our area and state.  Supporting Black business creates jobs and tax revenues plus other economic values along with  enhancing our civic leadership capacity.  For example, economists state that approximately 2/3’s of the employees of a small business will look like the owner.  With this being the case wouldn’t it make sense to have the Black business bear more of the burden of employing Black citizens? Enlightened civic and political leaders should see value in our Black business community and seek to encourage even more involvement of these leaders.  It is time for a new paradigm where the assets of ALL communities in our state are used for the betterment of our state. Let not another day pass!
    Joseph R. (Uncle Joe) Hudson
    Unabashed Black Business SupporterReport


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