The Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) comes in the bottom 10 nationwide. That’s for overall average wages.
It doesn’t look quite as bad for specific classes of jobs (creative, service, and working class), but that’s mostly because there are almost no MSAs in the lowest pay tier. However, for service jobs, Valdosta is not as good as Tallahassee, and makes it into the bottom 10:
These are lower-skill jobs in occupations like home health care aid, personal care aid, food preparation, retail sales, and office and clerical work. Even at the top end of the scale, they pay less than half of knowledge, professional, and creative work.
What can be done to improve this situation? Maybe look at what the higher-paying MSAs have done. With the exception of Houston, they are generally not based on polluting industries. And even Houston has major medical facilities and NASA. Hm, Valdosta has two hospitals and many doctors, plus a university in the top 10% by size and two other colleges, not to mention a thriving theater community, reviving local agriculture, and of course it’s TitleTown, USA. What can be done with those assets?
Or we could add another smokestack industry, the biomass plant, to the existing PCA and Langdale facilities.