Study: Upward mobility greater in North than South

A new report finds it is more difficult for people in Southern states to climb the economic ladder than it is for people in states in other regions, particularly those in the North.

Georgia, however, does not fare as poorly in the study done by the Pew Center, called the Economic Mobility Project, as neighbors including Louisiana and South Carolina.

The study, using data from the Census Bureau and Social Security Administration,  is billed as the first analysis of the economic mobility of Americans -- both upward and downward -- done on a state-by-state basis. It seeks to show where people are more likely to move up, and where they're more likely to move down.

The report focused on how the earnings of people in their prime working years increased or decreased over a decade's time. The study period covered the years 1978-2007. States were compared against the national and regional average.

Georgia residents'  average earnings growth and downward mobility were about on par with the national average. Georgia did have less upward mobility, however, than the nation as a whole.

Louisiana and South Carolina each had lower earnings growth, greater downward mobility and less upward mobility  than the nation. Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina all scored below the national average in two of those three measurements.

By contrast, Northern states generally had greater upward mobility and less downward mobility. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Utah and Connecticut fared best.

The study did not identify reasons for the differences in mobility among states.