Getting non-working men working again in Georgia

Getting non-working men working again in Georgia

In the coming decades, could so-called “middle skills” jobs be a key factor in reversing the contemporary epidemic of non-working males in the U.S.? There is reason to hope the answer is a resounding yes.

A phenomenon thoroughly documented by the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt and other scholars, an estimated seven million men in their prime working years of 25 to 54 years-old are absent from the U.S. labor force. Several factors tend to characterize these men: they are more likely to be minorities (particularly African-American), undereducated (no more than a high school diploma, and often less), and with a history in the criminal justice system. One attribute characterizes all of them—they are entirely disconnected from work. They’ve dropped out, unplugged, and given up on joining the labor force altogether.

Reasons for this are multifaceted, running the gamut from the challenges of obtaining work with a criminal record to addictions (alcohol and opioids particularly) to reliance on disability payments, family members, or government support to survive.

Closer to home in Georgia, this impactful map created by The New York Times shows where the non-working male problem is particularly bad, including areas where northward of 42% of these males are non-working, spanning Georgia’s larger metro areas to small rural regions.

Could middle-skills jobs be key to reducing this trend? It’s estimated that 29 million middle-skills jobs exist in the US today—40 percent of them with annual salaries in excess of $50,000 (for more, download this PDF). These jobs require less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high-school diploma, making shorter-term training programs and credentials—such as associate degrees, certificates, and apprenticeships—an ideal option. Click here for more on the demand for middle skills jobs in Georgia.

There are a number of reasons to hope that we can achieve some success by placing more emphasis on these types of alternatives:

  • Offering guided training pathways that lead to a workforce-ready credential will give non-working men a greater motivation to engage, compared to the six (or more) years needed to finish a typical bachelor’s degree.
  • Offering “stackable credentials” that allow students to gradually and sequentially build their skillset over a period of time will allow these men to quickly see progress and ROI in their training journey.
  • Building condensed and accelerated training schedules would empower men to finish what they start and improve graduation rates at community colleges and other training programs.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity is committed to making these kinds of opportunities available for all Georgians through our College and Career Pathways Initiative.

GCO’s Healthy Families Initiative announces #FatherhoodFriday: Celebrating the joy of being a dad

GCO’s Healthy Families Initiative announces #FatherhoodFriday: Celebrating the joy of being a dad

Being a dad is one of the greatest challenges in life, but it often gets overlooked. Though the everyday joys of being a father are overshadowed in pop culture by fast-paced news and Hollywood gossip, that doesn’t mean celebrity dads aren’t talking about how their kids are changing their lives for the better.

Beginning August 25, the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s Healthy Families Initiative is introducing #FatherhoodFridays on social media, celebrating fatherhood in pop culture. The launch begins with a series of graphic ads featuring celebrity quotes highlighting the joys of parenthood.

HFI is currently preparing for two fall classes on fatherhood. Conversations of a Father, which is accepting registrations for the dates of September 30 and October 14. The full-day class for men reinforces characteristics they need to be good fathers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The class is free to attend, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.

For more information, visit the Healthy FamiliesInitiative online.

You can check out the series below, or watch for the ads every Friday on Facebook.

“Every day I’m proud to be a dad.” -Chris Rock “Fatherhood is the most insanely amazing, most beautiful, unbelievable thing that can ever happen to you.” - Justin Timberlake Untitled design HFI John Legend ”Being a dad is legitimately the greatest thing ever…It just makes me wanna be better.” - Ashton Kutcher “I didn’t think being a dad was going to be this fun” - Jimmy Fallon

Could charter schools improve the performance of surrounding schools?

Could charter schools improve the performance of surrounding schools?


Advocates for school choice have long argued that charters encourage higher performance among all public schools. But is it possible that local students could benefit from the presence of a charter school even if they never go to school there? According to a recent study, the answer is yes.

In New York City, Temple University Professor Sandra Cordes found that the establishment of charter schools had a positive impact on the educational quality of the area.

According to Cordes’ research, charters drove up overall reading and math scores of traditional public schools, and also reduced the number of students held back a grade by as much as 20 to 40 percent.

In an interview with the Atlantic, Cordes explained that competition was the main catalyst for improvement.

“I think having that close a proximity might really get administrators to get their act together,” she said.

Parents could also see the difference in their kids. Moms and dads surveyed as part of the study claimed seeing “significantly higher student engagement.”

Cordes’ findings are soon to be published in the journal Education Finance and Policy. You can read her peer-reviewed study here, or check out the Atlantic article here.

Report: A declining birth rate could spell trouble for the economy

Report: A declining birth rate could spell trouble for the economy

When the great recession hit in 2007, economists weren’t surprised to find that young couples held off on starting families. However, ten years later, they’ve found that the birth rate hasn’t yet bounced back. Now, some experts fear that fewer babies could equal problems for the economy down the road.

In 2016, the U.S. birthrate hit a low only comparable to the Great Depression, according to Ohio-based Dayton Daily News. While 4.3 million were born in 2007, only 3.9 million were born last year. The decrease spans all ethnic backgrounds, while the average childbearing age has increased overall.

It could mean trouble for the education system and workforce in years to come, as education funding and the number of hirable, skilled men and women could drop.  

A number of factors contribute to why young families may be pushing off plans to have children. The report points to concerns over rising debt- including college loans- and insecurity over the job market.

“They’re very nervous about their ability to become financially secure,” said Corey Seemiller, an assistant professor of organizational leadership at Wright State University.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity offers a number of resources for men and women who are working to ensure their family’s stability. Through the Healthy Families Initiative (HFI), HFI is offering a full lineup of courses in the fall and will soon offer classes online. Check out upcoming class dates here.  

Legislators Being Thanked for Supporting School Choice

Legislators Being Thanked for Supporting School Choice

As children across the state are returning for a new school year, Georgia’s legislators are being featured on digital ads because they voted in favor of school choice.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity released a Legislative Report Card earlier in the summer which assigned letter grades to state lawmakers according to their support for school choice legislation appearing before them during the 2017 session.

Those who have strong records in favor of giving students and families more education options are now the recipients of digital ads thanking them for putting students first. The digital ads are running over the course of the next two weeks within each senators’ and house members’ district.

School choice has proven itself not to be a party issue, as lawmakers from both parties support parental choice options. Those with “A” grades featured in the ads are: John Albers (R-Roswell), Mike Glanton (D- Jonesboro), Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), Burt Jones (R-Jackson), William Ligon (R-Brunswick), Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), Fran Millar (R-Atlanta), Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), David Shafer (R-Duluth), Jesse Stone (R- Waynesboro), Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park), and Michael Williams (R-Cumming).


SC digital ads albers millar schafer SC digital ads Harbin McKoon Jones  SC digital ads Payne and Williams SC Legislator Ad - Glanton (single) SC Legislator Ad -Hill (single)  SC Legislator Ad - Ligon (single)   SC Legislator Ad - Shafer (single) SC Legislator Ad - Stone (single)  SC Legislator Ad -Stovall(single)