Economic recovery slower in Albany than state of Ga.

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Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 9:09 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be near twice the national average in 2022. That is according to Benjamin Ayers, Dean of the University of Georgia’s Business School.

But economists say Albany will be behind the pace of the entire state.

Businesses and stakeholders in Albany gathered Wednesday with a positive outlook on Albany’s economic recovery from the pandemic. But they still think it will take at least another year for us to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Alexandra Hill at the University of Georgia told me that she loves visiting Albany, especially downtown. But Albany has to do better with at least one aspect if we want to grow faster. And that’s education.

Albany is far behind the national average for the population with a college degree. 1 in 5 residents in Albany has, while the national average is 1 in 3.

Alexandra Hill is optimistic about Albany's future despite hurdles ahead
Alexandra Hill is optimistic about Albany's future despite hurdles ahead(WALB)

“And many residents in Albany don’t have a high school diploma and that makes them compete for low skill, low paying jobs,” says Hill.

Hill says the opposite is true as well. High-paying jobs looking for high skilled workers are picked from a smaller pool. And low-paying jobs are picked from a full pool.

Hill says she is already noticing higher graduation rates in Dougherty County are up and now are higher than the national average.

“I’ve raised my daughter here. She is raising her children here, so I have a lot of stake in this town,” Pam Simmons says.

Simmons is an example of what economists say will help our recovery and growth. She trusts the school system to educate her kids. Simmons tells us other reasons why she stays.

“Cost of living is really good to raise a family. Also job opportunities, and the convenience of our town being close to some of the larger places.”

Economists say Albany’s housing prices are now just returning to pre-recession levels.

“We may see a wave of homeowners in the area putting their homes on the market and downsizing. That would favor opening up properties for younger families to establish themselves.”

And home prices are going up. Although Albany’s rate is lower than the state average, Alexandra Hill says there is an estimated 15% higher cost yet to be realized. She says this is in part due to less construction.

“This does bode well for home value because lower supply, prices go up. But the trend isn’t as good for residential construction industries or first-time home buyers.”

This is why Hill hopes college students stay so they can get higher-paying jobs and can afford these higher-cost homes. And residents think this economic upturn could help low-wage earners.

“Even the lowest wage earners are benefiting from economic development and getting those jobs. Not just getting jobs from other places,” says Hill.

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