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The story on the front page tells about rural job loss during this recession being concentrated in counties that have a large number of workers employed in factories. North Carolina’s manufacturing employment is down, and the state’s rural counties are in trouble. North and South Carolina have lost tens of thousands of jobs in the apparel and textile industries, as factories recruited by a generation of southern governors have closed their doors.
It’s a story that is being repeated in rural Hungary, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Jeffrey Fleishman. Levi Strauss opened a jeans plant in the small town of Kiskunhalas in 1988 (map above). The company was in the process of moving its production out of rural American counties and moving it overseas. It was a miracle when Levi Strauss arrived in Kiskunhalas and the town grew. Recently, however, global sales have collapsed and and now the plant is closing.
“Levi’s sponsored games and sports. They were active in the community,” said the town’s mayor, a worker at the plant. “About 100 of their employees are two-income earners from the same families: husband-wife, mother-daughter. . . . But now Levi’s is leaving and they didn’t want to talk about how we could get them to stay. They’re acting like they never were part of us. It’s a great blow to this town.” This is a story that will be familiar to many people in rural America.