Changes in World Economy on Raw Materials May Doom Many Towns

February 16, 2002

BRADY, Tex. - All along the nation's back roads, hundreds of towns like this one are teetering in the recession, and some worry that they may never recover. Uranium mining has stopped in Falls City, Tex. In Loving County, Tex., oil exploration has stalled.

For farmers in Pima, Ariz., and Bartow, Ga., cotton prices have sunk to 30-year lows. Here in Brady, the ranchers who raise goats for angora wool are victims of low prices and competition from New Zealand and Argentina.

Stretched across the southern tier, from Arizona and New Mexico through Texas and Georgia and into Virginia, these small rural communities form the base of the national supply chain. They produce most of the oil and much of the ore, fiber and food. In past recessions, even if they did not bounce back entirely, at least they survived...

While freer trade benefits American consumers and industries that can now buy cheaper imported commodities, it has been rough on the places whose livelihoods depend on raw goods. For these already-struggling communities, the first post- globalization recession may break the old sequence of boom-bust-boom, and erase any hopes of long-term survival...

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Also see The Truth About Unemployment