DALTON, GA,(WDEF)-Thousands of North Georgians might have jobs but are still failing to make ends meet.
3 times as many families are making 35,000 dollars or less compared to those in the 75,000 dollar bracket in Dalton.
Matthew Hipps, Assistant professor of political science at Dalton,"Who are the working poor, who are working full time 40 hours a week and they still cant make ends meet the folks we see working hard to not get by"
The median income in the region has dropped by 13 per cent in the past 5 years and shows little sign of recovery.
One local business owner says he's adapting and working with his customers continual financial restraints.
Alex Cortes, El Sol Audio,"They want to spend no more the job went down a lot, so because I lot of customers they tell me their feelings if they can spend money or not"
Cortes says he has a simple solution to try and stop the inequality gap widening further.
"Buy locally you making it grow and stay in the Whitfield County area"
The Dalton metro area's poor households also finished bottom of the Mayor's Conference study with more than half of home's making even less than 35k a year.
At the Chattanooga Area Foodbank they say they are seeing more and more families from across North Georgia coming and asking for help for the very first time"
Maegan Jones, Chattanooga Area Foodbank,"It takes a lot of courage to come and ask for help at a food pantry or kitchen when you have maybe never had to before"
Jones says the inequality gap is often hard to see as families put on a brave face.
"Your child's friend at school, your senior neighbor who maybe be making decisions between buying their prescription drugs or putting food on the table"
Hipps says Dalton's problem is an extreme example of a national issue where generations are now getting stuck with debt, limited or no salary raises and little opportunity to move forward.
"Ask ourselves the difficult questions and be willing to have difficult conversations across all levels whether it's state local or on a national level, I would just remind folks we are in this together"