On the Economic Development Committee, we talk a lot about attracting good jobs to Georgia. We also hear a lot of reports about where the jobs actually are. Here is a brief overview of the national picture.
Over the past few decades mining, education services and utilities have all held steady at about one million jobs each. Entertainment and real estate are steady at two million each, while education, management, and information services are about three million each. Transportation held at four million, while wholesale trade and insurance held at about six million each. A huge sector that also held steady was retail at about 15 million.
Growing sectors include construction, which rose from six-seven million and technical services, which climbed from six-eight million. Administration also had big gains from seven-ten million and hotels from nine-12 million.
The biggest winner was health care, which ballooned from 14-19 million. The biggest loser: manufacturing, which plummeted from 17-11 million. That huge drop makes me pause. No other sector lost any jobs, yet manufacturing was gouged by almost a third. If our country doesn’t make things, how can we expect to remain world leaders?
In Georgia, agriculture dwarfs all other industries with a $71 billion impact to the state. The largest crops are Poultry at $4 billion, cotton at $1.3 billion, peanuts at $1 billion, and eggs at $0.5 billion. Blueberries have eclipsed the peach as our best fruit. Tobacco, once our third largest crop, has dropped off the radar.
Tourism is our second biggest driver at $32 billion. It’s tripled in the last 30 years supporting over 400,000 jobs. Energy is our third best industry, earning $35 billion in pulp wood, coal and natural gas. Automotive made $9.5 billion and film went up 10-fold, making more than $6 billion in Georgia last year. There are now more movies made in Georgia than California.
Twenty Fortune 500 Companies are now headquartered in Georgia. The largest (in order) are Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines (which employees the most Georgians), and AFLAC. But huge newcomers are appearing in big numbers such as Caterpillar, KIA, Mercedes, Porsche, and our own Baxalta.
There are many reasons they’re coming. Quick Start, operated by the Georgia Technical Colleges, is a huge recruitment tool for training specialized workers. Our own Bio-Science Training Center (which opens this week) will be a job generator for Newton and Morgan Counties. HOPE Scholarship has consistently been ranked the best education lottery in America, keeping our best students home inside our state. GA Tech is pioneering financial, communication, and information security technology and the Army is creating the new Army Cyber Command in Fort Gordon in Augusta with an influx of over 12,000 soldiers a year.
Georgia has the fifth largest population in America. Fort Benning is the sixth largest installation in the USA, with a $5.5 billion impact. But it just lost 3,400 soldiers almost lost a lot more. Robins AFB has a $4.3 billion impact and is the largest industrial complex in Georgia. Fort Gordon is growing with a $2.4 billion impact. Dobbins AFB, Moody AFB and Fort Stewart are other big installations.
I’ve talked to a lot of prospective businesses and they always say the same thing: an educated work force is their biggest challenge. One of the reasons I am so pro-education is that education is a dynamic economic driver and usually the biggest determiner to a company when choosing a new location. Currently, Georgia ranks 35th in the nation in educational funding, spending $1,400 less per child than the national average. We also rank about 35th in most test scores. 60 percent of the new jobs that are coming will require a technical college degree. That is why we’re putting so much emphasis on Career Tech Colleges.
Several different sources consistently rank Georgia as the best state in the nation to do business in. Savannah is now the fourth busiest port in the nation, and ATL is the busiest airport in the world. Taxes are very low, and Georgia is one of only nine states to have a AAA Bond Rating. We are fourth in the nation in jobs created, and recently rose from the 10th to the eighth most populous state. Things are going very well in Georgia, but if we are going to continue these positive trends, we’ll need economic development spurred on by tech-savvy education that make our children uniquely qualified for these high-paying jobs.
Dave Belton is the newly elected District 112 Georgia Representative. The Morgan and Newton County representative is serving in his first term in Georgia’s House. He is a resident of Morgan County.