Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bill Crawford: Rural Miss. Drifting into Distress

“What was once a country of disparate places that converged towards prosperity is now a country of places drifting further apart,” reports the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group (EIG). Rural areas are the most impacted.


This study corroborates my earlier column that population trends suggest declining prosperity in Mississippi’s rural counties.

The EIG study found population increasing in the better off counties while it was declining in the worse off counties. Population, however, was not used as a measure. The study used these criteria: 1) percent adult population with no high school diploma; 2) housing vacancy rate; 3) percent working age adults not working; 4) poverty rate; 5) ratio of county income over state income; 6) change in number of jobs; 7) change in number of businesses.

From these criteria, EIG performed a county-by-county comparison using two distinct time periods, 2007-2011 and 2012-2016.

What the study showed was a “great reshuffling” following the Great Recession.

“In the years following the recession, top-tier places have thrived, seeing meteoric growth in jobs, businesses, and population. Meanwhile, the number of people living in America’s most distressed zip codes is shrinking as the nature of distress becomes more rural.”

The study further notes that the gaps in well-being between prosperous areas and other areas have grown wider.



Mississippi had nine counties rated better off in both periods analyzed while 73 rated worse off. DeSoto, Madison, Rankin, Lafayette, Lamar, Lee, and Jackson rated better off in both periods. Marshall and Tate replaced Harrison and George in the later period.

The study showed only 7% of Mississippians residing in prosperous zip codes (second only to West Virginia) while 41.9% resided in distressed zip codes (the highest proportion among all states).

Other findings included: 1) prosperous zip codes were home to lots of professional workers while at risk zip codes were home to lots of blue collar workers; 2) minorities were over-represented in distressed communities; 3) prosperous communities added more net new businesses than the other 80% percent of zip codes combined from 2012 to 2016; 4) Americans in marginal communities continued to fall out of work deep into the recovery; 5) the geography of well-being largely reflects the geography of college-educated workers.

Looking at changes since the Great Recession, EIG reported, “Amid the reshuffling wrought by the fractured recovery, educational attainment has emerged as the sharpest fault-line separating thriving communities from struggling ones. Urban areas are ascendant, rural areas are in flux, and suburbs retain their outsized claim on the map of U.S. prosperity.”

(Another study projected that by 2040 over 85% of the U.S. population will live in urban areas.)

The EIG study concluded with this message: “Positive national statistics must not blind us to these divergent local realities or breed complacency in our needed efforts to expand access to opportunity to new corners of the country.”

The same goes for Mississippi. Positive statewide statistics driven by a handful of counties must not blind us to distressing realities in our rural counties.

Note to conservatives: EIG sees capitalism as the means to revitalize worse off counties in three ways: 1) private investment; 2) entrepreneurship and the growth of new business; and 3) a more innovative and accessible U.S. economy.


Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers!

That should git-r-dun!

Would this have happened if we had not removed the bibles from schools?

Anonymous said...

Has nothing to do with Bibles... Dollars are the key, but why would anyone invest in an area with declining population?

Anonymous said...

“This study corroborates my earlier column that population trends suggest declining prosperity in Mississippi’s rural counties.”

Breaking news: rural communities are poorer than non-rural.

Anonymous said...

Would this have happened if we had not:

Removed bibles from schools
Removed Vo/Techs from public schools
Removed what civil rights act actually was disguised as “pay for no effort”
Good old sweat for what you earn.
Kept our state listed as an agricultural state when only 1/4 of 1 percent actually graduated from school to go into farming!


There is no shame in having a vocational job. There IS shame in owing for a student loan debt that is useless and you were too damn stupid to figure it out, or were you just lazy?


There IS shame having a dumb population that can’t do a damn thing but give excuses! By the way, we never hear our GOP reps in Washington saying anything about this nor do they say anything about the division. I guess they are just there to collect a check an eventually get wealthy off lobbyists like the rest! WAKE UP!!!

Anonymous said...

No state in the union raised and cultivated more unskilled, uneducated, labor than Mississippi. Those people lived primarily in rural areas and had nothing to offer when mechanization eliminated their stoop labor jobs. Many left for the cities, often to Jackson, where they enter the cycle of dependence. The only avenue upward is education and Mississippi never put much stock in that, and stoop labor people generally don't have a culture of academic pursuit. So the unskilled and uneducated get clumped together and reinforce their own problems with bad schools and crime. A few see the light and escape...

Anonymous said...

The future for Mississippi is bleak. There will be a few pockets of economic activity thought out the state but the rest will closer to the delta.This report is really nothing new for is has been trending that way for 30 years.Productive people are leaving and what left is a weak workforce.

Anonymous said...

A column staying the obvious? What a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's see.

1:54 will be delighted to know that vocational education is available and thriving in many school districts throughout Mississippi.

And Mr. Crawford need go no further in his analysis that leaning back in his over-stuffed chair and considering the two most important points (the rest are chatter), as follows:

1) Percent of working age adults not working (think about that). This has been the problem since LBJ came on the scene.

2) Housing Vacancy Rate (I have to assume this means people who have moved away and for sale signs are still in the yard). Think about that too. Note that the measure is not HUD housing vacancy rates and Section 8 vacancies (there are none). The measure seems to be how many houses are for sale in the area. Did I already ask you to think about that?

Anonymous said...

There were Bibles in schools during the sharecropper day’s, didn’t seem to help the poor much.

Anonymous said...

3:23, not all districts have Vo tech, and it HAS NOT been pushed for many years. We are always late for the train. I’m glad it’s thriving, but it’s too late. We have skipped a generation in training our workforce and that is coming back to haunt us.

Anonymous said...

When a family dependent on unskilled employment loses it's livelihood there had better be some economic opportunity by the next generation or that family will enter the dependency cycle. Soon you have a family in a culture of dependence. Urban or rural. Mississippi established that system generations ago but now needs to find a cure, but it can't. Same thing happens more recently in the cities of the midwest but there is more economic opportunity and those families are saved. The intervention must happen before the 2nd generation of despair or it becomes a culture of failure. In Mississippi some are in the 3rd and 4th generations of dependence.

Anonymous said...

The entire history of this state has been to support slavery and then segregation. Racism destroyed this state. When schools were finally integrated white students moved to the Klan academies in the 1970s and 1980s which are called "Christian" schools now. The few people who still live in those areas today either go to the Klan academies or the often F rated public schools. Those who can score higher than their age on their ACT get out as soon as they can. What is left is a large pool of uneducated, undereducated, and unskilled people in an economy that centers around competing for cashier jobs at Dollar General. They can do a study 5 years from now, 50 years from now and the results will be the same.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:08.............

So, slavery and integration caused all of these problems?

LMAO about your comment "Klan academies". Like MS was the only state to ever resist integration. The history books are littered with nationwide examples of it.

BTW, education doesn't solve all of a cultures problems. The main elements for successful societies don't come from books.

Go finish reading some more liberal bullshit. I'm sure you have today's copy of the New York times right next to your cappuccino.

Anonymous said...

5:42; More than 500 schools in Mississippi as well as 15 community colleges offer vocational training. (MDE/CTE)

We can all agree that not enough kids pursue the training, not nearly enough parents see the value and potential and way too few business and community leaders only give a nod (if that) to vocational training. However, it's inaccurate to claim training is not available.

Nor have we 'skipped a generation' in training. I can't think of ANY time such training has been adequately emphasized. But, there are more kids now than ever in this state enrolled in vocational courses at the high school and junior college levels.

Our political paradigm emphasizes college. And once they get you in college, they emphasize keeping you there for a masters degree - whatever it takes to churn the money, regardless of the useless degrees awarded.

Anonymous said...

apparently the multiple billions in federal spending that has poured into this state for the past 40 or so years has yielded nothing. in that case the congress should cut all spending here and let all these people ,who constantly crow about how 'proud' they are, fend for themselves.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that people have always moved towards opportunity and success. This was true during the California Gold Rush. It is true of the oil fields in the Dakotas or the tech jobs in Silicon Valley. Skilled workers and unskilled workers will relocate for the opportunity at a better life.

So why is it that we think that areas that have no opportunity will suddenly prosper? Why do we continue to think if we just throw more tax payer money at the problem, give more tax credits, build industrial parks, etc. that we can turn a dying area into a thriving one?

Maybe it is natural that some areas have seen their best days. Perhaps we don't need to keep pumping state and federal dollars into counties that can't support themselves. Help people move to areas of opportunity and train those willing to learn.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing as natural as migration. Forcing people to stay in an area against their will and against their best interest is either oppression or slavery. Since this has recently become a free country we must expect this movement. Mobility is not a problem it's nature.

Anonymous said...

8:05 am We once led the world in educating the highest population percentage and that led to our greatest prosperity.

Now Russia is first with the U.S. falling behind Canada, Japan, Israel and South Korea.

You can't be at the cutting edge of innovation and technology and the economic spin off benefits without having read the books that teach the science.

One of the things you learn from books is what works and what doesn't in cultures. Education and a strong middle class leads to cultural renaissance. Wealth in the hands of a few spells doom.

Of course , that your idea of personal success for a Nation is money without regard to contribution or impact on the future, is that if you read at all, you read opinions from people with zero expertise in the subject matter and even less documentation.

Anonymous said...

Good, smart government is the only answer. As long as the leaders of this state primarily want to drown the government in the bathtub, things will never improve. Quality education, public health and infrastructure -- available to EVERYONE, regardless of means -- are the minimum a society needs to thrive, and like it or not, they can only be provided by a robust, well-founded state run by competent public servants. Wake up to that reality or watch Mississippi continue to waste away.

Anonymous said...

12:58, Just how is all that quality public spending paid for when no one has any money to pay taxes. All the people with smarts and money have left or will leave soon. People without means have no money to fund quality public services. So I guess all this money will just come from the tooth fairy for the federal government is now broke.

Anonymous said...

to 12:58.....good,smart, robust, well-founded, and competent does not describe government here in mississippi or anywhere else for that matter. if you think "government is the only answer" maybe you should buy a one way ticket to cuba, north korea, canada, or red china.

Anonymous said...

When the music stops, there are going to be millions of Mississippians without a federal chair. It's coming.....and there will be no comment from the leadership, much less a warning, except they'll say, "There was no way to predict this." Liars all.

Anonymous said...

2:18, if you're gonna go all "love it or leave it," how about if you don't want to make common sense investments in the future of your state and the people who live there, you get out of the way of those who do?

It would come as a surprise to practically every other Western country that government doesn't work anywhere, considering they pretty uniformly have better schools, healthcare, and infrastructure than most of the U.S., let alone MS. There's no money to be made in doing these things right, so there's no way around having the government do them, but you better believe you need them if you want to have a 21st century economy. Sorry if you can't square that with some commie bashing worldview but it's a simple truth.

Anonymous said...

No government any where does anything well. Last thing U.S. government did right was WW-2.

Anonymous said...

The only things that will reverse our course are these:

Require some sort of courses from grades five through 12 that will foster an understanding and appreciation of vocational academics.

Require some sort of courses from grades six through 12 that require a rudimentary proficiency in checkbook balancing, elementary finance, parental obligations, civics, obligations to society and personal responsibility/accountability for behavior.

All else is window dressing and assorted other bullshit that amounts to nothing.

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