Economic divide leaves little towns behind, report shows
Economic development is concentrated in large U.S. cities, including Chicago, deepening the economic divide between rural and urban communities in states like Illinois, a report by the Economic Innovation Group revealed recently.
Between 1992 and 1996, 32 percent of new businesses were created in counties with less than 100,000 residents. Between 2010 to 2014, that figure dropped to 19 percent. Today, 58 percent of all new business creation is undertaken in areas with populations of more than 1 million people.
According to the report, Cook County is one of 20 counties where half of all new businesses added in the country between 2010 and 2014 are located. The Chicago metro area added nearly 3,000 new businesses in that time.
In Illinois, only 8 percent of counties saw job growth that matched or exceeded national rates between 2010 and 2014, according to the report.
Chicago ranked No. 4 in the nation for the largest increase in employment from 2010 to 2014. The employment rate was 7.6 percent, but the population growth was only 1 percent, according to the report.
Other than Cook County, very few counties in Illinois had positive business growth statistics in the report.
Stephen Moore, a senior economist with the Heritage Foundation, discussed the growing divide between big cities and rural America with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, hosts of Chicago’s "The Morning Answer" radio show.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Moore said the issue is bigger than an economic divide. There’s also a cultural divide, and he witnessed it firsthand while on the campaign trail near Dayton, Ohio. Within 50 miles west of the city, he saw only one house with a sign supporting Hillary Clinton for president.
He said Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment was a turning point in the campaign because it confirmed what people in small communities believe liberal elites think about them.
“Liberal elites in Washington, in New York, in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley believe that they are morally, culturally and intellectually superior to these people in small-town America," Moore said. "And you know what, guys? They are not."
Moore pointed to the coal industry as an example of how the Democratic Party has abandoned the working class.
According to the latest report, coal jobs have seen a boost since October, with 11,000 coal jobs added in March. Mining employment has gone up by 35,000 jobs since October.