The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released year-end data for 2011 on Monday showing the average Floyd County resident earned $33,159 last year, a gain of $1,256 from 2010.
Catoosa County was No. 2 in the Northwest Georgia region with a per capita income figure of $29,685 while Chattooga County was the lowest with $23,576.
Georgia Highlands College economics professor Bruce Jones said the first thing the numbers tell him is that a large number of jobs that have been lost during the last several years have been low-paying jobs.
Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce President Al Hodge was pleased with the new financial figures. “That is positive based upon our medical and education assets in the community,” Hodge said. “Businesses that are recruited here are incentivized to come here and grow so those policies are working.”
“Here in Floyd County we really do have a higher percentage of professional positions, physicians, because we’re such a big medical hub. That really does bring up our averages,” said Rome Mayor Evie McNiece.
“Some of the new manufacturing we’ve brought in over the last 8-10 years has been more technical positions. Those positions
obviously bring a higher salary with them,” McNiece said.
Floyd County Commission Chairman Irwin Bagwell said the criteria used by the Chamber of Commerce in recruiting new industries over the last decade and a half really has a positive impact on wages.
Jones said he also suspects that the community has been doing a better job of enhancing the education level of the workforce.
“That’s going to lead to higher income jobs as well,” Jones said. “If you’re looking for an educational opportunity, I don’t know where you’d go that you would have a better variety. There’s virtually nothing you can’t get here which isn’t the case in many places our size.”
The same BEA Report also indicated that Floyd County’s population had declined by less than 1 percent between 2010 and 2011.
The BEA report lists Floyd’s population at the end of 2011 at 95,989, down from 96,287 at the end of 2010.
Chattooga, Polk and Walker counties also registered population drops. While the remaining counties showed increases, all were well under 1 percent.
Hodge said the decrease in population was something of concern. “We need to continue efforts to grow the community with quality, not growth at any price,” Hodge said.
Bagwell said he suspects the slight decline in population may have something to do with people leaving to find a better job situation.