Education

Ga.’s Lack Of Graduates Threatens Economy, Says Report

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analyst Melissa Johnson discussed a new report on the high numbers of adults without a high school diploma in Georgia and possible solutions.
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analyst Melissa Johnson discussed a new report on the high numbers of adults without a high school diploma in Georgia and possible solutions.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

Listen to the interview.

More than 850,000 adults in Georgia do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, a GED, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, or GBPI. The agency has released a new report on the problem and how to help more adults get a diploma.

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analyst Melissa Johnson said during an interview on “A Closer Look” that the numbers are alarming.

“We have the ninth highest rate [in the U.S.] of adults without a high school diploma or GED between the ages of 18 and 64,” she said. 

The GBPI report finds the state’s “economic well-being is threatened by the high numbers of adults without a high school diploma” or GED.

In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal launched the Complete College Georgia Graduate initiative to try and create a more competitive workforce.

“The state will need 250,000 additional graduates with a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher to meet its workforce needs by 2020,” according to the GBPI report.

And while the state does have resources and programs for adult education, the programs served only 60,000 people in 2014.

“We recommend more government investment, more government support for adult education,” Johnson said.

The statistics for people without high school diplomas and some form of higher education are sobering. And the impact on the state, which is already the nation’s fifth poorest, is significant, as well, according to the report.

Georgia residents without a high school degree are almost twice as likely to live in poverty as high school graduates. The report also says they’re more likely to be incarcerated, develop poor health, lose jobs, and their children are more likely to live in poverty, too.

  “If we don’t invest in adult education, we’ll be having a similar conversation 10 years from now in terms of Georgia’s poverty ranking,” Johnson said.

“I think that there is a direct connection between getting that good job and education.”

WABE’s Eboni Lemon, Rose Scott, and Denis O’Hayer contributed to this report.

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