Americans spend about 4 percent of their take-home income on motor fuels, but "in some counties in the Mississippi Delta, that figure has surpassed 13 percent," Krauss reports. "The survey showed that of the 13 counties where people spent 13 percent or more of their family income on gasoline, 5 were located in Mississippi, 4 were in Alabama, 3 were in Kentucky and 1 was in West Virginia. (Click on Times map above for county-by-county comparisons of gas prices, median income and their intersection.)
The long-term picture is not good. "Sociologists and economists who study rural poverty say the gasoline crisis in the rural South, if it persists, could accelerate population loss and decrease the tax base in some areas as more people move closer to urban manufacturing jobs," Krauss reports. "They warn that the high cost of driving makes low-wage labor even less attractive to workers, especially those who also have to pay for child care and can live off welfare and food stamps." (Read more)
The data make localizing this story easy. Here's an example from the Lexington Herald-Leader.