By Jim Davis
Georgia’s economy is in peachy condition.
It’s a lot more than zombies now. The popular television show “The Walking
Dead” put Georgia on the map when it comes to television and film production.
The industry has grown exponentially in the Peach State over the past decade.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, $2.7 billion was spent in the state
producing TV series such as “The Walking Dead” and “Stranger Things” and
blockbuster movies such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
The state has seen a 10-fold increase in dollars spent on these productions
since 2008. To lure Hollywood filmmakers, Georgia gave $800 million in tax
breaks to the industry in 2017. That’s far more than New York and California,
which provided $420 million and $320 million in breaks that year, respectively.
While the entertainment industry is growing fast in the Peach State, it
represents only a small sliver of the $565 billion gross domestic product for
the state. It’s hard to pinpoint the major industries for the state, because so
many different business sectors perform so well in Georgia.
The state has a host of major corporations that count Georgia as home,
including Coca Cola, Delta Air Lines, UPS, The Home Depot and more.
Twenty-six companies with headquarters in Atlanta rank on the Fortune 1000
list. Railroad giant Norfolk Southern Corp. announced in December it was
moving its headquarters from Norfolk, Virginia, to Atlanta, bringing 850 jobs
and more than $500 million in expected economic investment.
For the sixth year in a row, Site Selection magazine has ranked Georgia the
top state in the nation for business climate.
Agribusiness remains important for the state. Georgia ranked 14th in the
nation in terms of value of food produced — at nearly $10 billion. The Peach
State, however, ranks behind California and South Carolina in production of
its namesake fruit.
Georgia ranks eighth in the nation in defense spending with major Army
bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Stewart.
Manufacturing employment in Georgia peaked at about 554,000 jobs in 1997.
That had shrunk to 385,000 by 2016, according to the Georgia Department
of Labor. The state agency expects that number to grow to 416,000 by 2026.
Georgia faces some challenges. Atlanta ranked fourth in the nation for cities
with the worst traffic, for instance. To combat congestion, the state passed
a transportation bill to raise $1 billion a year to pay for mainly maintenance
For public schools, Georgia ranks 41st in the nation for graduation rates,
37th for average SAT scores and 23rd for college readiness.
Georgia had an estimated population of 10. 5 million as of July 2018. The state’s
median household income as of 2017 was $52,977. About 14. 9 percent of the
population lives in poverty. n
What the locals say
“Starting in the 1950s, Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama,
were about the same size. It was a big issue about whether …
Birmingham or Atlanta [would become the dominant Southern
city]. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Atlanta started to grow faster
than other cities in the Southeast and the U.S. generally. We’ve
been outpacing, fairly steadily, the U.S. since then. We’ve had
four decades of growth faster than the nation. If you do 1 percent
faster than the nation annually, and you do that on a compound
basis for a few decades, you get somewhere.”
Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
Home sales and prices
Atlanta’s home prices have been on an upward trend over the past four
years, according to data from the Atlanta Realtors Association. Home
prices per unit reached $285,000 this past July, a high for the year. That’s
up from $237,000 for the same month in 2015.
Home sales have also generally been on the upswing, but had slowed
somewhat in 2018. In November 2018, 3,953 homes were sold in the city,
down 9.1 percent from the same month for the previous year. Still, the sales
volume — and whether it surpassed the previous year — varied month to
month throughout 2018.
Atlanta Home Sales
Source: Atlanta Realtors Association
Unit sales Median sales price
*Data for December 2018 was not available at press time.