Next month marks the 10-year anniversary of the onset of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Not exactly an anniversary to celebrate. The Great Recession hit the U.S. hard and Georgia harder — and it creamed Glynn.
So, where is our local economy today compared to where it was 10 years ago, just before the recession hit? And how has our local economy fared over the last 10 years compared to Georgia and the U.S.?
A telling measure of an economy is real gross domestic product — real GDP for short. Real GDP is the inflation-adjusted market value of an economy’s production, as well as income generated from production. Tracking how real GDP changes over time tells us a lot about the health of an economy.
In the U.S., real GDP fell by 3.2 percent from 2007 through 2009. It has grown every year since 2009, and is now 14.4 percent greater than it was 10 years ago, just before the recession hit.
In Georgia, real GDP fell by 6.7 percent from 2007 through 2009. It has grown every year since 2009, and is now 6.6 percent greater than it was 10 years ago.
In Glynn, real GDP didn’t just fall from 2007 through 2009. It fell from 2007 through 2014, and by a whopping 15.8 percent. It began growing again in 2015, but is still 7.9 percent less than it was 10 years ago.
An even more telling measure of an economy is real per capita GDP. Real per capita GDP — or real GDP per person — is real GDP divided by the economy’s population. Real per capita GDP says much about the standard of living in a region.
In the U.S., real per capita GDP was $49,126 in 2007. In 2009, it was $46,680, a decrease of 5 percent from 2007. U.S. real per capita GDP is now $50,577, 3 percent greater than its 2007 level.
In Georgia, real per capita GDP was $46,734 in 2007. By 2010, it had fallen by 9.4 percent to $42,029. It is now $44,723, still 3.6 percent below its 2007 level.
In Glynn, real per capita GDP was $40,255 in 2007. It then fell in each of the next seven years to $31,478 in 2014, a decrease of 21.8 percent from its 2007 level. Glynn real per capita GDP has increased since 2015 and is now $33,580, still 16.6 percent below its level ten years ago.
Note the gap between real per capita GDP in Glynn and real per capita GDP in the U.S. The gap was big in 2007: real per capita GDP in Glynn was 18 percent less than real per capita GDP in the U.S. The gap has since become a chasm. Real per capita GDP in Glynn is now 33.6 percent less than real per capita GDP in the nation.
That is not just a gap between a couple of arcane economic numbers. The gap between those numbers reflects a gap in living standards and a gap in the things that drive living standards.
The news is certainly not all bad. Our local economy is growing again, and at a decent clip. Not only are real GDP and real per capita GDP growing again, we’re also seeing significant improvement in the labor market.
But goodness, we’ve got some catching up to do.
Don Mathews is a professor
in the School of Business and
Public Management at College of Coastal Georgia and work with the college’s Reg Murphy Center for Economic and Policy Studies.