Georgia: a good place to do business. Who for?
What Georgia is saying is we have labor to hire at slave labor rates. Georgia’s state minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. Georgia has lost 14 percent of our jobs paying $50,000 or more. Georgia rejected the Affordable Care Act and ranks No. 14 among the unhealthiest states. According to AARP, Georgia has the fourth highest percentage of people over 65 that rely for 90 percent of their income on Social Security. Georgia ranks among the worst states for income inequality. Fifty-three percent of Georgia’s workers in the private sector were not offered retirement plans in 2012. Georgia is an “at-will” state with no exceptions.
According to data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, Georgia has slumped from 25th place among the states in per capita income to 40th place, the same ranking it held in 1979. Louisiana, Tennessee and North Carolina have moved ahead of Georgia while Alabama is set to pass us.
Georgia’s tax cutting did little to move Georgia up the ladder in terms of job creation. Georgia’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate since 2008. Employers nationally pay about $42 annually for unemployment insurance but Georgia opted out of the forward-funding system. Now we pay $84.
We give local tax incentives to have businesses relocate, only to find the tax burden for roads, bridges and infrastructure falls disproportionately on local taxpayers. A good business environment often includes tax giveaways or lax regulations that are industrial accidents waiting to happen (as in West, Texas, and Elk River, W.Va.). Georgia’s governments give away $1.4 billion a year in tax incentives that cost each person $144 in taxes every year.
Eighty-five banks based in Georgia have now failed in the last four years. Georgia’s bank failures from 2007 to 2013 cost the FDIC more than $9.8 billion.
Because Georgia has cut so much from the education budget the chance a child raised in the bottom fifth on the economic scale could rise to the top fifth is only 4 to 5.5 percent. Even a child raised in crime-ridden Chicago has a better chance.
Alabama has fewer food stamps recipients than Georgia, and now Whitfield County is Tier 1 — the only such county on I-75 north of Atlanta. How much more “good for business” can you take?