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Income disparities persist in the Chattahoochee Valley

Belva Dorsey, chief executive officer of Enrichment Services Program Inc., reads to Head Start children at the agency’s Child Development Center. The agency recently published a community assessment with demographic information about the nine counties that it serves.
Belva Dorsey, chief executive officer of Enrichment Services Program Inc., reads to Head Start children at the agency’s Child Development Center. The agency recently published a community assessment with demographic information about the nine counties that it serves.

Ever wonder how your community is faring economically?

Well, median household incomes and poverty rates are good places to start when making such an assessment. And in the Chattahoochee Valley, those numbers can be quite revealing.

In Muscogee County, for example, the median household income is just over $48,700, with nearly 23 percent of the population living in poverty. Travel just a few miles north to Harris County and the numbers look quite different. The median household income there is just over $69,200, with about 10.5 percent in poverty. In Georgia, the poverty level for a family of five is a household income of $35,513 per year or $2,959 per month.

Such demographic information is now available through a community assessment conducted by Enrichment Services Program Inc., a nonprofit agency that provides social services to residents in nine counties. The assessment contains a brief synopsis of each county in the agency’s service area.

“Home to Fort Benning, the area is significantly impacted by the military presence,” the report said. “The employment base is diverse and employment has been relatively stable. ... However, there are disparities among the counties in their ability to meet the income, eduction and social services needs of all citizens.”

The nine counties assessed were Chattahoochee, Clay, Harris, Muscogee, Quitman, Randolph, Stewart and Talbot counties in Georgia, and Russell County in Alabama. Here are some other interesting facts available in the report:

  • Between 2010 and 2013, Russell County experienced the biggest population increase, growing by just over 12 percent. The population grew by 9.6 percent in Chattahoochee County, 7 percent in Muscogee County and 3 percent in Harris County during the same period. Most other counties in the nine-county region experienced a decrease in population.
  • The current population for the nine-county area is 333,000. Muscogee County accounts for 61 percent of the population with nearly 204,000 people.
  • Blacks lived in poverty more frequently than other race and ethnic groups, with just over 27 percent in poverty compared to 11.3 percent of Caucasians and 16.3 percent of Hispanics.
  • In Muscogee County, 34 percent of the children live in poverty and nearly 73 percent of school children receive free and reduced lunch.

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter

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