Rural Northeast hit hard by job loss, report finds

Competition in the global economy displaced 1-1/2 million workers from jobs in rural America in a recent six-year period and is changing the nature of work in many rural areas, according to a report by The Casey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

The report finds that the rural Northeast had the highest rate of job displacement of any region in the country, with low-skill workers at the highest risk of losing jobs for good.

The report includes focused looks at issues brought on by economic changes in two communities – Coosa Valley, Ga., which has been hard-hit by the closure of three textile and apparel plants, and Berlin, N.H., where the biggest employer, a paper mill, declared bankruptcy in 2001, then reopened and is now closing for good later this spring. As part of the report, writer and researcher Julie Ardery details steps taken by the Berlin community to re-focus its economic development efforts.

The new Carsey policy report analyzes job displacement figures from around the country between 1997 and 2003.

The loss of rural jobs was particularly large in the manufacturing sector, the report finds, and the rate of loss was higher in the rural Northeast than in the rest of rural America. The key causes fueling the trend have been the push for cost savings through automation and cheaper labor overseas.

“Increases in productivity and international competition are changing the nature of work in rural America. Job losses are mounting in communities where low-skill employment has dominated the economy,” the report’s authors conclude.

In response to the problem, the report recommends better education and training in rural America, as well as innovative, community-based economic development approaches to keep small towns and rural areas economically viable.

The report was written by Amy Glasmeier, a visiting professor at the Carsey Institute and the E. Willard Miller Professor of Economic Geography at the Pennsylvania State University, and Priscilla Salant, associate director of the Carsey Institute.

Copies of the report are available by contacting Amy Seif at The Carsey Institute, 603-862-2821. Or visit for a PDF of the report. — NHBR STAFF

Categories: News