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Economic Independence
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Economic Independence

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national poverty rate slightly decreased to 15.0% in 2011 from 15.1% in 2010. This is significantly lower than the poverty rate in Georgia and Chatham County, which were 19.2% at the state level and 22.5% locally.  In Chatham County, the poverty rate was 16.3% in 2009 and 19.7% in 2010. (Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program.) The state poverty rate was 16.6% in 2009.

These figures indicate that many individuals and families increasingly struggle to address their basic needs. Persons living in poverty are generally unable to save for college, a home, or retirement and do not have the means to handle unexpected expenses.

Poverty affects the quality of life in a community by undermining its long-term potential for economic growth and development. Research by the Brookings Institute (2004) on the interdependence of central core cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas reveals a link between the long-term economic health of the core and periphery. Further, the reduction of poverty rates and income disparity in the central city was found to increase income growth in the surrounding and larger metropolitan area.


Central city poverty tends to exacerbate problems associated with educational outcomes, health and crime rates, all of which undermine the long run vitality of the economy. An effective way to mitigate poverty in the long-run is to increase financial stability through income growth, to build personal savings, and to gain and sustain assets. Ultimately, this will enhance the financial independence of low income families and will foster a more economically vibrant community. Addressing the root causes of poverty, discussing them directly and creating meaningful lasting solutions are important to the long-run economic growth and health of our community.


Income Development and Asset-building

The long-term goal of achieving economic independence depends on individuals and families earning increasing income, building savings, attaining and sustaining assets, and achieving financial stability. Effective community support programs help low income households provide for their families and increase opportunities to achieve economic independence in the long run. The following indicators related to financial self-sufficiency and economic independence are important benchmarks for monitoring progress in reducing the proportion of persons living in poverty in our area and increasing the long-term economic vitality of the community. The indicators were derived from a survey of Chatham County residents conducted by the Armstrong Public Service Center or obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau.