In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the rise of globalization and new technologies dramatically changed our nation’s economy. Small towns once home to thriving factories, plants, and mills saw entire industries disappear along with many jobs, and the families who relied on them to put food on the table. These losses were later compounded by the Great Recession, which hit rural areas particularly hard.
While the economic recovery that began earlier this decade has brought prosperity to some, the growth hasn’t been spread evenly. Here in Virginia, many of the counties that lost businesses during the recession have not made up those losses — and most of those counties are in rural areas. That’s part of the reason why traditional economic indicators like a booming stock market and strengthening GDP growth don’t always reflect the financial reality of everyday Americans.
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