Interesting piece in today's ABH about the local economy. Now, said piece is written by Walter Jones, who is Morris News' stringer in Atlanta, and you all know how we feel about Walter Jones.
Still, according to the piece, Athens has a pretty enviable unemployment rate: 4%. But then, we figured out (at about the same time as one of our alert readers) that this brings up some really interesting and disturbing extrapolations.
Now, we were told there would be no math, but if you look at the numbers, Athens has about a 28% poverty rate. Accounting for statistical errors (and to make the math easy), we'll call it 25%. So one out of every four people in Athens lives in poverty.
And then you have the rosy news from Walter Jones that 24 out of every 25 folks in ACC who need a job have a job.
So, if out of every 100 Athens residents, only 4 need a job, but more than 25 are poor, what does that say about the state of the local economy? Suddenly, it doesn't seem as rosy after all. But that's what you get when you have a service economy. Low wages, high turnover, high poverty.
Meanwhile, as referenced before, both the local government and the state legislative delegation have been less than proactive. In fact, images of ostriches doing what they do best come to mind.
We still believe that the onus is on the local government. That means that somehow, the M&C have to declare a cease-fire with the Chamber of Commerce and actually work together. (It also means that the Chamber is going to have to grow up and stop acting like spoiled three year olds every time the M&C pass something they don't like.) The key words here are economic development. Should Athens turn into a manufacturing town? No. Should we be able to get better, higher-paying jobs here? Yes. But until the M&C and the CoC start taking economic development seriously, then we're never going to grow past being a service economy.
[Edited because I forget to put in the linky goodness. P]