By Jim Burress
When the President visited Decatur on the 14th, he pushed for universal Pre-K.
Atlanta’s perhaps the perfect backdrop to talk about the effect the Great Recession had on the middle class.
High unemployment. High foreclosures. And continued high hopes.
“The middle class [are] my people, ya know? I definitely fit that bill,” says Rich Sullivan, who’s having tea with a friend at Decatur’s Java Monkey coffee shop.
Sullivan wants to stay in Atlanta’s middle class.
“Sully,” as many know him, spent years behind the mic at the now-defunct DaveFM.
Since it changed formats in November, Sullivan’s found out what it means to be among the 8.4% of Atlantans who are out of work.
“A lot of us don’t have a lot of resources anyway,” he says. ”Perhaps a lot of our savings have been tapped into already, as we’re looking for work. So I would say it’s very difficult, yeah.”
Two years ago, Atlanta’s unemployment situation looked much worse, flirting with 11%.
Even though the picture’s improved a bit, both the metro area and the state as a whole continue top the nation’s average of 7.6%.
So how did it happen?
“It started with the construction sector, went into the other areas—corporate, middle class jobs—every kind of job was lost,” says Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan of the 2008 collapse.
Dhawan says we got drunk on housing construction, which is one reason the Great Recession hurt Atlanta more than some places.
“If the Atlanta metro area was adding 40,000 jobs, we were adding 80,000 housing units,” he says. ”It should’ve been only 20,000 housing units.”
The bubble burst, leaving a cold reality many Atlantans still feel. Foreclosures saturated the market, depressing home values. Construction all but went away. And most every industry suffered.
But Dhawan is optimistic.
“We can have very good recovery if we can take care of some of the issues at the national level and the international level at this point. It’s not the problem with us. The problem is outside of Atlanta.”
Things like sequestration and slowdowns in Europe and China are partly responsible for the slow recovery.
But the problem that is very much Atlanta—housing—is finally starting to show growth.
Robust growth, in some parts.
“What we’re seeing on homes that are well-priced, in good condition, and in good neighborhoods with good schools, we’re seeing multiple offers. And this is a very encouraging sign,” says Atlanta Board of Realtors president Nancy See.
Another encouraging sign: foreclosures are at a six-year low.
For two years, distressed properties accounted for about half of all home sales. Now, it’s closer to a quarter.
And the median home value jumped from $119,000 in Dec. 2011 to $165,000 a year later.
Each week, we hear of companies expanding or locating to Atlanta, and that’s good news.
And like many Atlantans, it’s why Rich Sullivan says he’s optimistic something’s just around the corner.
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This entry was posted on Monday, February 25th, 2013 at 8:50 am. and is filed under Atlanta, Atlanta Beltline, College Park, East Point, Featured, Feed, Fort McPherson, Fulton County, Hapeville, Homepage, Metro Atlanta, Mortgage News, Real Estate, Small Business, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.