Poverty in Appalachia

Duane Beachey of MCC Great Lakes SWAP program, writes about poverty in Appalachia and the complex relationship between economic development and resource extraction interests.

What struck me most living in Appalachia was not the poverty, which I expected, but the wealth that goes out of these counties. In 2010, a billion dollars worth of coal was sold out of the half dozen or so coal counties in southeastern Kentucky alone. Yet the poverty rate is the highest in the counties with coal. All of the poverty indicators—unemployment, disability rates, and people on food stamps—are some of the highest in the nation. The economic problem is that most of the mineral rights to the coal were purchased by outside investors years ago. So all of the wealth leaves the county except for the wages paid to relatively few people who work for the coal companies and supporting businesses.

Read the entire article here.

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