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Thu Mar 21, 2013, 07:29 AM

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


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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Reply What Recovery? Across America, People in Distressed Cities and Small Towns Face Economic Catastrophe (Original post)
xchrom Mar 2013 OP
libdude Mar 2013 #1
LiberalEsto Mar 2013 #2
JDPriestly Mar 2013 #4
Politicub Mar 2013 #3

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 08:40 AM

1. Absolutely true, saddly

The recession or great recession as it is called, has only added to the continued economic downturn that has been a fact for many decades in the parts of the country that does not usually attract attention of the main media or the political machines.
I think the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was truthful on this aspect in that he practiced " destructive capitalism ", and by observation he and his capitalist cohorts have had remarkable success. This was made possible by Republican and Democratic legislative efforts that created tax policies that permitted favorable foreign outsourcing of jobs that created the ability to hide profits in off shore tax haven to avoid taxes. A corporate culture that has apparently the title deed to the political processes of the United States.
Hope this does not sound overly pessimistic but ask yourself, how has your economic system for your little economic enterprise working these days? Is the current capitalistic system working well for you, your family, your community?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 10:03 AM

2. I've been out of work for 4 years, 5 months


even though I live in the Washington DC area, which supposedly has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country. And now our regional economy is screwed because of the sequestration furloughs and layoffs.

There aren't many middle class jobs remaining in this country.

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Response to LiberalEsto (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 10:43 AM

4. You are correct. There aren't many middle class jobs remaining in the US.

I think that one cause that is not mentioned very often is our lack of legal protection for employees. The power is all on the side of employers, of investors.

We need to have laws that help us work together, employees and bosses. Right now, our laws put us at loggerheads. That is not working. Our society and our technologyare too complex for that.

Think about how our lives differ from those of our great-grandfathers.

We need to change our expectations about the workplace to reflect the fact that we have to cooperate and trust each other nowadays. At-will employment is not working today. Employers should not be able to just fire people because they can hire someone younger that they like better.

And employers should help bear some of the responsibility for training and educating their employees to do specific jobs. More than they do now. As it is the retraining of employees, say acquiring better computer or even basic math skills is usually the burden of the employee. The employer wants people with top skills, but expects the employee to get those skills on his or her own.

It used to be the government would provide the opportunities for people to get those skills. But now, employers don't want to pay high enough taxes to pay for government education and continuing education for ordinary people.

So we have a country in which employers do not adequately train their employees and in which employees cannot afford to pay for the training themselves. We need to change that.

Also employers should be required to let employees know how the company is doing financially. In theory, we have laws that prevent discrimination based on certain factors, but we don't really protect the ability of employees to survive in our changing economy.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 10:24 AM

3. Migration to cities is at an all-time high

It's unfortunate but a fact of life that most of small town America is unable to provide enough jobs. And they skew conservative so they vote for republican economic policies that run counter to their self interest and end up damaging the local economy even more.

And my suspicion is that most educated young people leave and don't return. That's my story at least.

My extended family back in the small town struggles with employment and finding opportunities.

And LGBT Americans often aren't welcome in most of the small towns in the southeast, so we end up leaving for the big city.

Is it a bad thing? For me it's not. I have a better life, but also understand that most people don't have the means or will to seek better pastures.

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