State of Rural XX

Through the State of Working XX project, EARN groups are seeking to offer an alternative approach to thinking about non-urban areas and their needs, while also engaging in new ways in small cities and rural communities. Despite the code-language driven perception that the challenged non-urban communities are primarily white, there many areas where economic decline and state neglect have placed people of color and white people alike in a precarious economic condition. The State of Working XX effort will highlight the spectrum of issues and populations affected by them and point the way to solutions to improve economic conditions for all people in rural areas.


State of Rural West Virginia

West Virginia’s population is increasingly living in urban areas, with those urban areas experiencing all the state’s job growth in the past quarter century, leaving rural West Virginia behind in many key areas, according to a new West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy report.

The report, State of Rural West Virginia, shows rural West Virginians primarily have poorer health, lower educational attainment levels, lower wages, are older and have fewer job opportunities outside of industrial and extractive industries, underscoring the contrast between the state’s rural and urban areas.

Rural West Virginia has been plagued with job losses from 2007 – 2016, losing more than 21,000 jobs, or eight percent, highlighting the uneven balance of West Virginia’s weak economic recovery.

Bill Would Limit Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Cut them Off Much Sooner

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a form of income-replacement coverage that keeps workers who lose their jobs out of poverty, boosts the economy in communities that experience downturns and helps to shorten recessions. Yet House Bill 252 would cut workers off UI much sooner, erode the maximum benefit compared to actual Kentucky wages and make fewer Kentucky workers eligible. This would especially hurt rural communities in Kentucky with high unemployment.

A New Great Depression in Rural Maine

New data released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis provide more evidence of Maine’s lackluster economy, and the failure of policies pursued by Governor LePage and his allies. In the first quarter of 2017, Maine’s economy saw no real growth. Zero.  That was the lowest rate in New England, and the seventh-worst performance of any state. These new data are just the latest in a series of indicators that demonstrate just how much of a failure LePage’s economic legacy will be, especially for rural Maine. 

Economic growth is not like the weather. Lawmakers are not powerless to affect change – to encourage growth, and ensure that its gains are shared fairly. Governor LePage and his legislative allies have held Maine’s economy back by favoring wealthy Mainers over hardworking families, and opposing investments in our infrastructure, and our education system. The mantra of small government has not only hurt working Mainers, but also stymied the state’s job growth. The governor and his administration have even turned away nearly $2 billion in outside funding that would have stimulated our economy. The results of those disastrous policies are becoming increasingly clear.