The ARC's mission is to bring Appalachia to socioeconomic parity with the rest of the nation. It has a long way to go. While poverty rates in the region have fallen by about half, "researchers noted that other problems persist, including disproportionately high mortality rates and dependency on government checks," Drew writes. "The commission’s leaders acknowledge that even after half a century, the need for aid is as great as ever, a sentiment echoed by heads of charities in the region." Earl Gohl, the commission’s federal co-chair, told Drew, “We have serious work to do.”
executive summary of the report doesn't even mention "Central Appalachia," and the subregion gets only three mentions in the 181-page technical report. Central Appalachia as defined by ARC is the counties in yellow on the map above.
Health remains a serious problem, and the region is "losing ground," the report says. Infant mortality rates in the region have dropped significantly, but overall mortality rates remained the same while mortality rates nationally have dropped. "The report cites higher rates of obesity and diabetes in Appalachia as possible contributors," Drew writes. (Click map for larger version)
"The report’s authors estimate that more jobs were created by the ARC in its early years when it received higher funding from the government," Drew writes. The Reagan administration wanted to abolish the agency, but Congress refused. However, "The funding levels changed dramatically, and with that the commission changed dramatically as well," Gohl told Drew. "We moved from large appropriations funding big public works projects. And it’s now, I would say, a leaner commission that focuses on developing strategic partnerships.” (Read more) For the full report, click here.