Housing affordability was one of the earliest policy challenges that drew the attention of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, as this 1992 commentary demonstrates. As the Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2021 – with an event September 16 at the Georgia Aquarium – it is also renewing its focus on housing affordability, an ongoing and growing concern for many working Georgians.
Quotes of note
“While businesses must constantly adjust to survive, once bureaucrats create regulations, they have no incentive to repeal them, ever. Instead, they add hundreds of new ones every year.” – John Stossel
“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” – John Adams
“A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society.” – Ludwig von Mises
Congestion: Atlanta ranked eighth in the nation for traffic delays per commuter in 2020, according to the 2021 Urban Mobility Report from Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Across the nation, the pandemic led to a 9% decrease in employment and an 18% decline in traffic volume over 2019. Nationwide, the average delay for commuters was 27 hours in 2020, compared with 54 hours in 2019. Each commuter in Atlanta wasted 37 hours sitting in traffic in 2020 compared with 78 hours of delay the year before.
Left the station: The Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation have identified a 274-mile “preferred corridor” for a proposed high-speed rail line from the Atlanta airport through Athens to Charlotte and on to Washington, D.C. “Due to the size and complexity of the project,” the agencies are “deferring decisions” on the route approaching Atlanta, the equipment and the location of rail stations.
Open table: The Small Business Administration listed the 101,004 recipients of more than $28.6 billion in stimulus grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The Independent Restaurant Coalition quickly pointed out the “ineligible businesses” – non-food establishments – that received grants when “Congress clearly spelled out that only eating-and-drinking places should qualify for relief.”
Scattered and ranked: Four Georgia-based restaurant chains are among the 50 most successful in the nation. Waffle House is No. 46; Zaxby’s is No. 35; Arby’s is No. 17 and Chick-fil-A is No. 4. The top restaurant chain is McDonalds, followed by Starbucks. Applebee’s, No. 25, was founded in Decatur but is now headquartered in California. Source: 247WallStreet.com
Apprenticeships: States are expanding apprenticeship programs as worker shortages grow, Governing.com reports. The national Registered Apprenticeship Program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, and workers who graduate from its apprenticeships (or a state agency’s) earn an industry-recognized credential. Alabama became the first state in 20 years to move its federal apprenticeship programs to a state office. Washington already has 20,000 registered apprentices in its program, with plans to expand, and Maine has apprenticeship offerings in healthcare.
Skilled labor shortage: Before the pandemic, 38% of manufacturers had trouble finding skilled labor. Today that number is 54%, according to a study by The Workforce Institute at UKG. An article in IndustryWeek reported that many employees are “ghosting” their employer, skipping their shift with no notice. Between January and March 2021, 68% of manufacturers let employees go due to poor attendance.
Gone but not forgotten: The 2021 Georgia legislative session may be over but issues remain to be resolved, among them reapportionment and redistricting. Find out about House and Senate committee meetings here: www.legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.
Gun injuries: In 2019, nearly 40,000 people died of a gun injury in the United States and about twice that number were injured, according to the Government Accountability Office. Hospital costs for initial treatment total about $1 billion a year, with 63% covered by Medicaid or other public coverage. Of the patients, 90% were male; more than half were black; more than half were between ages 15 and 29; and more than half lived in ZIP codes with an annual median household income below $44,000.
COVID-19 update: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.
More than you can chew: For the first time, graduate students are set to have borrowed as much as undergraduates in the 2020-21 academic year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Debt counselors recommend students borrow no more than they will earn right out of school, but nearly 40% of master’s programs at top-tier private universities fail that test, the newspaper reports. About $11.2 billion in federal Grad Plus loans were issued in the school year that ended in 2020. After up to 25 years on an income-dependent payment plan, borrowers can be forgiven the balance and taxpayers bear any losses.
Energy and environment
Cowabunga! Georgia loggerhead sea turtle nesting numbers continue to rebound. Nest counts are down this year from 2020 due to natural variations in nesting patterns, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; not all turtles nest every year. There were only 350 nests in the state in 2004. By 2019, there were almost 4,000. This year the count is expected to be around 2,400 nests. Source: Brunswick News
This month in the archives: In July 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “What’s HOT, What’s Not about High-Occupancy Toll Lanes for Georgia.” It noted, “To relieve congestion and enhance mobility in the region requires transportation leadership that enthusiastically embraces two vital solutions: a HOT lane network and the public-private partnerships that can make it a reality without overburdening taxpayers or growing government.”
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Georgia’s Healthcare Competitiveness Hobbled by Certificate of Need,” by Chris Denson.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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