Friday Facts: December 17, 2021

It’s Friday! 

Memory Lane

The more things change … Limited government and fiscal responsibility have been mainstays of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation since its founding in 1991. As this 1996 letter to the editor from Foundation President Griff Doyle shows, the Foundation has long warned about the consequences of unrestrained federal spending. As the Foundation’s yearlong 30th anniversary celebration draws to a close, Washington’s clearly not listening: This week, Democratic majorities in both chambers voted to send a $2.5 trillion increase in the nation’s borrowing authority (debt limit) to President Biden.

Quotes of note

“The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.” –  Marcus T Cicero

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” – George Orwell

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”

On Our Desks

  • From the heart: Kyle Wingfield continues to recuperate from heart surgery and will be back in the office in the new year. He explained in his recent column.
  • 30 for 30: In celebration of Georgia Policy’s 30 years of advancing freedom in our state we’re asking our friends to give $30 today. Will you contribute?

Economy

Bounce back: Georgia’s economy is expected to have a big 2022, based on predictions from UGA Terry College of Business Dean Benjamin Ayer. He says that by late 2022 the state’s economy will fully recover from the COVID-19 recession with Georgia’s economic growth rate expected to reach 4.3% next year, outpacing the nation’s GDP of 4%. But it’s not all good news: Home prices are expected to increase yet again next year.

Sticker shock: Despite dramatic wage increases driven by the labor shortage, Americans’ average hourly wages fell by 1.9% in November compared to a year ago when factoring in inflation, reports Fox Business. The Consumer Price Index rose 6.8% in November from a year ago: energy prices are up 33.3% year over year, gasoline is up 58.1% compared to a year ago, food prices are 6.1% higher, and used cars and truck prices are up 31%.

Job security: Firings and layoffs are at record lows, according to CNN Business. There were 227,000 fewer involuntary job losses in October than in the pre-pandemic low in September 2016. U.S. Labor Department data show a ratio of 0.67 job seekers for every job opening, the lowest since tracking began in 2000. The previous lowest ratio was 0.81 job seekers for every opening, recorded in September and October of 2019, when the unemployment rate reached a 50-year low.

Reining in spending: The average American carries more than three credit cards. According to Federal Reserve data, total credit card debt at the end of the third quarter of 2021 was $800 billion. That is down from a peak of $927 billion at the end of 2019. Source: Lending Tree

Shop ‘til you drop: WalletHub released “2022’s Cities With the Least Sustainable Credit Card Debt,” based on data from one of America’s big three credit rating agencies, TransUnion. WalletHub determined “the cost and time required to pay off the median card balances of more than 180 U.S. cities.” Miami topped the list: The median balance is $2,247, which would take 89 months and 19 days. Augusta, the only city to crack the top 50, was No. 42, with median debt of $1,487 that would take 57 months and 21 days to pay off.

Housing

South’s top towns: Six Georgia cities made the list of 24/7 Wall Street’s Best Cities to Live in the South, based on data from the Census Bureau, FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to measure four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life and community. The top cities were Sandy Springs (11), Milton (12), Alpharetta (18), Suwanee (32), Braselton (35) and Rincon (48). The best city in the 16-state Southern region was Highland Park, Texas.

Taxation

Hacked! Six months after the publication of the private tax information of some wealthy Americans, the IRS is still unable to explain how the leak occurred, reports The Wall Street Journal. ProPublica has continued to publish confidential information since the initial leak in June and claims to have details on thousands of taxpayers. The IRS’ master file for tax submissions was developed in 1962 and in 2020, and more than a year before the leak a review by the General Accounting Office warned of security vulnerabilities.

Energy and Environment

Revving Up Rivian: Electric car manufacturer Rivian revealed plans for a $5 billion battery and assembly facility just east of Atlanta. Rivian will be the largest industrial announcement in Georgia history, surpassing the 4,400-worker Kia complex that opened in West Point in 2009. The plant is expected to hire 7,500 workers, with the potential to hire more than 10,000.

Healthcare

New neighbors: The Center for Global Health Innovation has announced plans for an innovation district in the 47-story Tower Square in Midtown Atlanta. The nonprofit organization, which was launched in 2020 “to focus on improving health outcomes and reducing disparities,” would not disclose the amount of funding behind the plan or the names of prominent backers and tenants. The hub has one large tenant, a company that is publicly traded, but whose name is not yet being divulged.

Oh no, Omicron: A third Georgia resident has tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, this time an unvaccinated Atlanta resident without recent travel history. Find the latest statewide numbers on COVID-19 here.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In December 10 years ago, the Foundation published “Better Busways Don’t Require Exclusive Lanes.” It noted, “The idea of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has gradually been catching on with U.S. transportation planners.  As counter-intuitive as it sounds, in most cases it’s a mistake to develop BRT systems based on exclusive rights of way.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “In Building Back Better, Treat Safety Nets with Care”

Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas.

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.

 

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