This is a story about a number. Last week, Forbes magazine declared Macon was the seventh-most impoverished city in America. Forbes ranked Albany as fourth.
As bold as it is and as meaningful as it seems to be, the number seven in the ranking isn’t clear-cut. It’s derived from rough estimates drawn from a federal survey. Actual facts diverge more from the estimates.
For Doug Bachtel, a University of Georgia demographer who studied Bibb County in the 1990s, the numbers don’t matter as much as what they’re trying to portray. Bachtel said if Macon’s near the bottom, it needs to improve and not worry about the exact ranking.
The Forbes magazine report used five sets of numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, called the American Community Survey. The magazine studied these figures — per-person income, money earned by the bottom 20 percent of the population, the number of people who earn below 50 percent of the poverty line, the number of people who get public health care, and unemployment numbers. The figures were combined and weighted, so some of the statistics are considered by Forbes to be more important than others. The magazine declined to discuss how those figures were weighted.
The American Community Survey taken during the course of last year offered a broad look at the Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties.
But some of the numbers are far from concrete.
Read the complete story at macon.com