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xchrom

(108,903 posts)
Thu Mar 21, 2013, 07:29 AM Mar 2013

What Recovery? Across America, People in Distressed Cities and Small Towns Face Economic Catastrophe [View all]

http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/what-recovery-across-america-people-distressed-cities-and-small-towns-face-economic



The US economy, many believe, is turning a corner. Maybe so, but for much of the country, what lies around the corner is a dead end. In far too many places, high levels of unemployment still exist, and joblessness has been the norm for years, even decades. Unless we try something different, these places will once again be left behind as more prosperous areas recover.

In over 200 metropolitan and micropolitan areas, the jobs crisis dominates everyday life, but these communities were experiencing high levels of unemployment long before the Great Recession. They are “distressed areas,” which we define as areas where the unemployment rate has been at least 2 percentage points higher than the national average for at least five years—in some places, for over 20 years.

We usually assume that economically distressed areas exist only in inner-city slums or rural backwaters. But areas plagued by persistent high unemployment almost never fit into conventional categories. Distressed areas share characteristics that make them unlikely to recover if the remedies offered rely only on the standard approaches to boosting the economy.

In distressed areas , government aid provides nearly one-third of residents’ incomes, compared to 17% nationwide. Upwards of 40 percent of the population in these areas lives on $30,000 a year or less, and the workforces there have low educational-achievement rates, with more than half possessing just a high-school degree or less. Most jobs are in low-end service industries, especially prisons, casinos, nursing homes, and retail. Such jobs offer few chances for upward mobility or skill enhancement.
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