As if Albany needed to hit in the stomach again.
On the heels of city hall corruption indictments and amidst a slump in which the community seems to lose a manufacturer every year comes the revelation that the Albany metropolitan statistical area is among the 10 poorest communities in the nation.
The determination of Albany’s vastly impoverished state was made by Forbes magazine’s Website, Forbes.com, which merged newly released U.S. Census Bureau income data with communities’ percentage of food stamp recipients, the percentage of people under age 65 receiving public health care and the unemployment rate.
With the bad news comes more this excruciating reality: The loss this year of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and its 1,300 local jobs wasn’t contemplated in the Forbes rating – so Albany’s economic condition is even worse than Forbes’ measurement.
The Albany metro area includes Dougherty, Lee, Baker, Terrell and Worth counties. The U.S. Census Bureau says the area has a per-capita income of $21,359 – below the poverty level for a family of four and far less than half the U.S. median income. The bottom 20 percent of the area’s residents lived on about $8,350 annually in 2008, the Census Bureau says. Cooper’s closing follows the recent losses of Merck & Co. and Bobs Candies.
All 10 cities on the Forbes most-impoverished list are Southern, border cities, or declining manufacturing centers. Macon is the only other Georgia city on the list; the others are Pine Bluff, Ark.; Brownsville and McAllen, Texas, Rocky Mount, N.C.; El Centro, Calif.; Yuma, Ariz.; and Saginaw and Flint, Mich.
The Good Life?
Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area
- Population: 158,415
- Per capita income: $21,359
- Income of bottom one-fifth: $8,350
- People earning below 50% of poverty line: 8.4%
- Food stamp recipients: 17%
- Public health care recipients under age 65: 32,895
- 2008 unemployment: 6.3%
Albany, in southwest Georgia, has lower unemployment than Pine Bluff, but more people living below half the poverty line. The bottom 20% earn on average $8,350 a year, only slightly more than in Pine Bluff.