Monday, January 12, 2009

Once-booming towns in the Southeast are feeling more of a bust as unemployment spreads

As the length and severity of the recession continues to increase, areas of the country previously resilient to the economic downturn are beginning to struggle. "For decades, high-growth states like North Carolina, Georgia and many of their neighbors showed extraordinary resiliency during national economic downturns," reports Dan Fitzpatrick of The Wall Street Journal. "But increasingly, the region appears no longer able to stave off the slowdown."

For example, "North Carolina's widely lauded economic transformation of the last three decades -- in which the state diversified away from its dependence on agriculture and textiles and into technology, banking and pharmaceuticals -- is proving no match for what could be the longest and deepest U.S. recession since World War II," Fitzpatrick writes. The state is experiencing a 26-year high in unemployment at 7.9 percent and some experts are predicting double digit unemployment for 2009.

The town of Hickory is indicative of what small towns in the Southeast are experiencing. Fitzpatrick writes, "The area is still a hub for furniture and textile makers, despite plant shutdowns and tens of thousands of layoffs as cheaper foreign labor took its toll."(Read more)

To see state-by-state unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with year-over-year change in percentage points, click here.

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