Resources and People in East Kentucky: Problems and Potentials of a Lagging Economy

Resources and People in East Kentucky: Problems and Potentials of a Lagging Economy

Resources and People in East Kentucky: Problems and Potentials of a Lagging Economy

Resources and People in East Kentucky: Problems and Potentials of a Lagging Economy

Excerpt

Surely one of the most intractable of modern social and economic problems is that of the depressed region. As economic changes sweep across the country inevitably certain geographic areas become stranded just as others receive unexpected and perhaps unearned benefits. In those areas put at a disadvantage—whether the cause is a waning natural resource, a shift in the location of markets, or some inability of business, labor, or government to adjust to change—distress is likely to be severe, and more severe the longer this condition persists.

In an important sense the problem of unemployment and underemployment, and to a considerable degree the problem of low incomes, is not a national or general one; rather it is the problem of particular regions, particular categories of skill within the labor force, particular age groups, principally older workers and young unskilled workers, and particular industries for whose products demand has withered. The situation becomes especially acute when there is an overlapping of these problem types; when, for example, a relatively large number of older workers or unskilled workers live in an area that is no longer advantageously situated with regard to raw materials and markets and that has a heavy concentration of declining or slow-growing industries.

East Kentucky, the region under study in this book, is such a place, and has been for some years past. Relative isolation from the main transport arteries and markets of the country, relatively low levels of education and income plus relatively high birth rates, relative concentration in coal mining, which is a slow-growing industry, and marginal agriculture, along with other factors, have defined a set of problems whose solution thus far has evaded the efforts of local groups and national and state programs. East Kentucky is one example, albeit an exceptionally dramatic one, of a set of economic and social problems similar to what is faced by many thousands of people in this country in a distressingly large number of agricultural and mining areas.

The situation of East Kentucky is a hard one, but there are lines of amelioration, if not complete solution.Dr. Bowman and Dr.Haynes have made a comprehensive yet penetrating analysis of the structure and function of the region; while their book does not minimize the region's difficulties, neither does it overlook the hopeful possibilities.

Most of the field research for the book was completed several years ago; the interpretations and assessment of prospects are more recent. Because of the long-term persistence of the problems of East Kentucky, it is unlikely that any dramatic and sudden change in fortunes will occur. Some recent improvements around the edges of the region have been offset by further decline in coal where the situation recently has been gloomy indeed. The severe winter of 1963 brought very difficult times and put severe strain on the morale of local leaders who had been fired by determination and zeal to better the region. In this context the analysis presented in the book becomes, unfor-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.