The rate of per capita personal income growth slowed all across North Georgia during 2019, well before the onset of the coronavirus shutdowns.
Per capita personal income is defined as personal income divided by population.
In Floyd County, personal income was $39,314 for last year, an increase of 2.4% from the previous year, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The data ranks Rome 353rd among the Metropolitan Statistical Areas across the United States and 11th among the 14 MSAs in Georgia.
In the previous year, 2018, residents of Rome and Floyd County registered a personal income level of $38,382 — which was a modest 3.5% growth rate over 2017. The decline in income growth for 2019 mirrored a decline in most of the MSAs across the state.
Rome-Floyd County Development Authority President Missy Kendrick said that while the 2.4% income growth rate in 2019 was down from the previous rate, it is still growth.
“If we didn’t have economic development I don’t think we would continue to see growth in our personal income,” Kendrick said. “At this point, we are relying on the growth of our existing industries to shepherd in the growth of personal income.”
Kendrick also said that the Development Authority is raising the bar when it comes to increasing wage rates across Rome and Floyd County.
Up until just a few years ago, the minimum wage required for new or expanding industries to receive incentives was less than what the state required for job tax credits.
“We are now meeting what is required by the state to even offer job tax credits,” Kendrick said. The minimum wage for job-creations tax credits is now at $13.53.
Nine of the 14 larger communities across Georgia registered personal income growth of less than 3%. Albany was highest at 5%, while Hinesville was lowest at 1.7%
The BEA report also breaks down the data on a county-by-county basis. Floyd County’s personal income figure, which is the same as the Rome MSA, ranked fourth across the 15-county Northwest Georgia region.
Pickens County, as it has for several years, led the way with $48,493 and a 1.9% growth rate from the previous year. Whitfield County was second at $39,927, with 2.1% growth from 2018. Bartow was third at $39,505 and a 3.1% growth rate.
Neighboring Polk County had the highest rate of growth of personal income at 3.8% — but its actual income figure, $34,055, ranked 13th among the 15 counties.
Per Capita Personal Income
The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority has been busy all year with industrial prospects to create new high-wage jobs, Kendrick told the authority earlier this week. She said three new prospects have emerged in the last 30 days.
Over the last two years, expansion of existing industries has been the name of the game when it comes to job creation. International Paper has undertaken a $150 million upgrade to the mill in Coosa, Ball Packaging invested $218.8 million and Ball Metal Container $37.8 million at the canning campus in Shannon. Kerry has invested $120 million, F&P Georgia was approved for $40 million in bond assistance and Marglen received $17 million.
The International Paper project is primarily a technology upgrade which is listed as helping to retain 500 existing jobs at the mill.
The two projects at Ball Packaging and Ball Metal Container are adding 187 new jobs, while Kerry’s expansion will bring on 120 new jobs.
The Marglen addition will mean approximately 20 new jobs while the F&P projects will bring on at least 15 new jobs, with an undetermined number to be added when the second phase of its expansion begins in 2022.
Rome Floyd Chamber President Jeanne Krueger said the report is important to the chamber internally for goal-setting reasons.
“Obviously people looking for jobs are comparing salaries across the state as they are looking to take positions,” Krueger said.
Salaries, however, aren’t always the bottom line when it comes to recruiting the workforce, she said.
“People need to know our lower cost of living and some of the other benefits to living in Rome and Floyd County,” Krueger said. “We have a diverse economy; great jobs out there that pay extremely well, but we just need more.”
Krueger said that growing the population is at the top of the chamber’s to-do list and good wages go hand-in-hand with that.
“We check off so many of the boxes for why people want to live and work here,” Krueger said. “But a shortage of housing is a concern. Because if they can’t find the price range home they want, they will move to another community and commute in or take a job elsewhere.”