The Economy of the State of Georgia

Instructor: James Walsh

M.B.A. Veteran Business and Economics teacher at a number of community colleges and in the for profit sector.

Measured by GDP, Georgia is the ninth largest state economy in the US. This lesson will explore the main components of that economy, as well as take a look at Atlanta, it's largest city.

Services Economy

Known as the Empire State of the South or the peach state, Georgia has the ninth largest state economy in the United States. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the gross domestic product (GDP) for Georgia in 2016, that is, the value of all the goods and services produced in the state, was $461.1 billion dollars.

This commemorative coin has a Georgia peach in the center.
Georgia coin

Another measure of a state's economy is real median household income. For 2015, the median Georgia household made $51,244, while the median household income for the US as a whole was $55,775. Georgia may have a relatively large state economy, but it has some catching up to do when it comes to the income of its citizens. Most Georgians work in what is known as the services sector. The services sector includes many lower paying occupations in the fields of hospitality, retailing and tourism. That may account for some of the income difference.

Georgia also has some traditional industries that are still going strong. We will look at them next.


Agriculture is Georgia's oldest industry. The first settlers were interested in growing crops that could be shipped back to England. After the invention of the cotton gin, cotton became king in Georgia and in much of the old South. Cotton remained king until 1915 when the boll weevil became widespread, which led Georgia farmers to diversify into other crops.

Georgia leads the nation in peanut production - that is something to smile about!

Agriculture still has a presence in Georgia today, as one in seven Georgia workers are in agricultural fields. Cotton is still grown, but Georgia is best known for its production of peanuts and pecans. No other state produces more of either and Georgia produces twice as many peanuts as the second-place state! Georgia also leads the nation in the production of broilers (chickens) and, of course, eggs. Poultry raising is the largest income producer for Georgia farmers. The sweet Georgia peach is also a well-known symbol for the state and its agricultural diversity.

Unfortunately Georgia does not enjoy the prominence in the energy sector that other southern states like Texas and Louisiana do.There are no major oil reserves here and little in the way of coal deposits.


Thanks to having easy access to all that cotton, Georgia emerged as a leading producer of textiles. While much of the old textile industry has moved overseas, textiles are still an important job producer in smaller Georgia cities such as Augusta, Rome and Macon. Much of Georgia is heavily forested, so it is a leader in lumber and pulpwood production. Processed food and paper products are also manufactured from the states resources.

The non-union South has had success in attracting the automakers; Kia came to Georgia with assembly facilities in 2009.

Military Presence

Georgia ranks fifth in the US for total department of defense military, civilian and reservist employment. All branches of service are represented but 63% of these personnel are Army. Ft. Benning is the most well-known base, where Army infantry are trained.

Atlanta Is the Hub of the New South

Atlanta is Georgia's largest city and the largest city in the whole Southeastern US. After segregation officially ended in the 60s the South began to change. Atlanta was in the forefront and emerged as a diverse, tolerant and cosmopolitan city. Its population is 37% college educated versus 28% for America as a whole.

Atlanta is the largest city in Georgia and a transportation hub for the Southeast.

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