First Friday Block Party in Downtown Rome

Hundreds of people gather at Broad Street and Fourth Avenue for Friday's block party. (Alan Riquelmy/RN-T.com)

Per capita income levels in Northwest Georgia are below the statewide average and Floyd County has the highest unemployment rate in the region, according to a University of Georgia demographer.

During a town hall meeting Wednesday night, Mathew Hauer presented and analyzed census numbers in preparation for the Tallatoona Community Action Partnership director laying out the nonprofit’s five-year plan.

Tallatoona CAP is a private nonprofit with goals aimed at helping families and individuals get out of poverty and become self-sufficient.

The organization serves an eight-county area: Floyd, Gordon, Bartow, Polk, Paulding, Cobb, Douglas and Haralson.

Hauer said the census numbers show that population growth in the region remains below the state average and that, overall, the region is less diverse than the state as well.

The lack of a high population growth reflects the effects of the recession, Hauer added.

In 2014, Floyd’s population actually decreased by 0.3 percent, but it bounced back in 2015 with a 0.2 percent increase.

Additionally, white people in Floyd County account for 72.3 percent of the population, compared to 54.3 percent in the state, according to 2014 numbers. Hispanics make up another 10.3 percent and 14.8 percent are African-American.

Hauer also said that the per capita income of $20,863 is below the statewide average of $28,555, which correlates to a higher poverty rate. Per capita — or average — income is the total income in an area divided by the number of people.

The 2015 Floyd County unemployment rate was also the highest in the region, at 6.6 percent.

On the bright side, Hauer said that Floyd County has the lowest percentage of people in the region who work outside their county, with only 18.5 percent leaving the county for work.

In comparison, the state average of people who work outside their county is 41.6 percent.

Graduation rates also are higher than the state average — but one in four people in the region don’t have a high school diploma. Hauer said those with diplomas may be moving to the Atlanta area.

In Floyd County, 22.19 percent of the population over the age of 25 doesn’t have a high school diploma, but the county’s graduation rate is 83 percent.

Tallatoona CAP Executive Director Scott Grey laid out a tentative five-year plan in the hopes of remedying some of the negative census analytics.

Some of the points include preparing 3,000 children for kindergarten, building the capacity of childcare providers for parents who work, developing a literacy program where parents read to kids, and offering heating assistant services to 70,000 families.

Grey said that anyone who wants to help or needs help can contact the nonprofit through its website, tallatoonacap.org.