Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rural America and the recession

The New York Times today features a story headlined, "Job Losses Show Breadth of Recession," by David Leonhardt. The story does not mention rurality, but it is accompanied by a county-level map showing unemployment rates. Striking are the consistently low rates of unemployment through the sparsely populated plains states, from North Dakota down through Oklahoma, particularly the western parts of these states and the eastern parts of neighboring states like Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Here is Leonhardt's observation, with a caveat regarding these places' relative economic well-being.
Every state in the country, with the exception of a band stretching from the Dakotas down to Texas, is now shedding jobs at a rapid pace. And even that band has recently begun to suffer, because of the sharp fall in both oil and crop prices.
Also striking is the very high unemployment in places like northwestern Arizona, which is mostly Apache and Navajo land, as well as in Grand County, Utah, which is home to gentrified Moab. Some counties in the southern part of South Dakota are also very hard hit.

The Daily Yonder, however, has written of the toll that the recession is taking in rural America, and that can be seen on the NYT map in other regions' rural areas--as in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas.

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