There are plenty of jobs in Georgia, but working at the so-called No. 1 company is said to be miserable

Peach State politicians on both sides of the aisle like to tout Georgia as the best state in the country to do business. But a new report from Oxfam America says Georgia may be one of the states with the worst working conditions.

“If you want to come here and run a big company, that would certainly be great,” said Hannah Perkins, policy and campaign director for the Georgia AFL-CIO. “The statistics show it would be great. However, the numbers show and what people are saying is that it is not the number one place to work.”

The report ranks Georgia as the No. 50 best place to work nationally, although the inclusion of Washington DC and Puerto Rico means Georgia isn't quite in last place – Mississippi and North Carolina fare worse.

Oxfam condemned Georgia for its low minimum wage of $7.25, which is as low as it is legally possible to pay most hourly workers in the United States. Oxfam says this represents nearly 19% of the cost of living for a family of four in Georgia.

In response to the study, the Georgia Department of Labor provided statistics showing that the average wage in Georgia in 2022 was $18.43, which would be nearly 48% of the cost of living for a family of four.

The department's communications director, Shawna Mercer, also noted Georgia's low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent compared to 3.8 percent nationally. That ranks Georgia 29th nationally, but third among the 12 states with more than 8 million residents.

She said Georgia added more than 88,000 jobs between July 2022 and 2023, ranking it 11th among states in that statistic.

However, Oxfam America found that these jobs in Georgia pose much greater risk to the workers who perform them than in other states. Georgia lost points for its worker protection policies, ranking 49th in that metric. While the researchers gave the state some credit for adopting some protections, such as child labor protections, Georgia lost points for many policies it does not require, such as paid sick leave, advance notice shift planning or a heat protection standard for outside workers.

“Elected officials and everyone at the top can just read these statistics, these are more than just statistics to us,” Perkins said. “These are people, this is their life, and we want to ensure that every worker has the right to a well-paid job, a safe workplace where they are free and can organize fairly if they want.”

Georgia certainly didn't get any points for its friendliness toward organized labor. Oxfam found that the state has a so-called “right to work” law, does not provide for collective bargaining and wage bargaining for teachers, does not protect workers from retaliation for wage theft, and does not mandate collective bargaining for public workers.

“When we look at wages, workers in unions earn 18% more,” Perkins said. “We also ensure that there are better health services and safer workplaces, especially since we have a right to work.”

The researchers found that the average working Josephine in Georgia may be slightly better off than the working Joseph.

Georgia ranks 49th out of 52 for working women in the report, ahead of Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina.

Auditors gave Georgia some praise for requiring paid pumping breaks for breastfeeding workers and requiring equal pay for all genders and races. But they found Georgia lacks policies to support women that exist in other states, including protections from sexual harassment in state law. Worker protections for domestic workers and paid family leave.

Oxfam found that most of Georgia's neighbors are not setting a good example. Overall, Tennessee is ranked 45th, North Carolina is 52nd, South Carolina is 49th and Alabama is 48th.

Virginia scored 28th, the highest in the Southeast, with a minimum wage of $12 an hour, which is 29.5% of the cost of living for a family of four, and Florida was 30th, with a minimum wage of 2.5% of the cost of living a family of four not far behind $11, which is almost 28% of the cost of living.

According to the report, California performed best. Minimum wage workers there are paid $15.50 an hour, more than 34.25% of the average cost of living, and workers there enjoy some statutory benefits that Georgians do not have.