If you have any doubts what is happening to our country, click this freaky visual map and watch the county by county disease creeping across America as more than 31 million people are progressively laid off. http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html
And these are only the official numbers.The Bureau of Labor statistics is not all that clear on how many have 'fallen off' the rolls because they are no longer eligible to receive unemployment. Or how many PhD's are now driving part time taxis by day and scrubbing floors at night.
I know we'd all like to feel more positive during the season of good cheer. So what can we do about this? Well, how about offering a meal or a bed to someone in need? Our local food banks are only able to give out half the amount to a family under current demands. They noted the number of executives in line along with the long time homeless. Things have gotten so bad at our food-banks that most retailers who are still in business are collecting canned food for discounts to help out.
While this time lapse map blackens like the plague, did you happen to see the one WHITE county left with unemployment under 1.9%? Slope County, North Dakota. In fact since the start of this recession their unemployment numbers actually went down. What gives?
The Skinny on Slope, North Dakota: I looked up the Slope County statistics and among the 767 people living there: voila: 56.4% are employed in mining. (According to my trader friends, mining is a growth industry.) And OMG there are more MEN than WOMEN!!!! How did that happen? But wait...there's more...they must have AVOIDED the real estate bubble: The median house value in 2000 was just $23,900. and it gets better...their median household income of $24,667 is actually MORE than the median house value which means you could probably save enough to buy a home with cash or very solid down payment in what --five years?
Could Slope North Dakota please share their secrets with those of us living in counties where the median house value is four times our median income? I am just wondering if the fact their Government workers are under 15% of their total has anything at all to do with this screaming success? And from what I gather in these modest statistics, they have zero manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, semi conductors, high tech or financial industries to bring them down.
Of the two towns mentioned on their website:"...Marmarth has slowed it's pace a little. It is a quaint and quiet town with beautiful views, interesting people, and tons of history. There are about 50 people living there and there is no longer a high school in existence. There is an excellent restaurant that is a diamond in the rough. There is a gas station and cafe but that is the bulk of the businesses." They are raising funds to restore a few railroad depots and old buildings if anyone on Active Rain has a mind to reconsider their options.
County Population: 767
County Houses: 451
Land area: 1217.9 sq. mi.
Water area: 1.3 sq. mi.
Industries providing employment: Agriculture,forestry,fishing and hunting, and mining (56.4%).
Type of workers:
Private wage or salary: 38%
Self-employed, not incorporated: 45%
Unpaid family work: 3%
Median age: 42.5 years
Males: 53.8%, Females: 46.2%
Average household size in Slope County: 2.45
Median household income: $24,667 (year 2000)
Median house value: $23,900 (year 2000)
Median montly rent in 2000: $325
Could Slope be the model upon which to rebuild our local economies? There could just be a catch: according to the county photo collection,most of the buildings featured are derelict. Of course this could be a clever PR campaign designed to scare off the city slickers who might move in, run up the property values and set up artsy fartsy cafes and galleries. If anyone from Slope County is on Active Rain I'd love to hear the skinny on your success. I'll bet the 45% self employed person is feeling pretty happy knowing they have a home to come home to at the end of the day.
Please don't consider my online musings unkind. I am frankly amazed that places like Slope still exist and I would love to hear more from other places where unemployment is not a daily threat. We could all use some good news for a change! David Suzuki has written a book by that title -- it's very inspiring! Good News For A Change.