Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
The changing face of rural USA
Old 08-27-2019, 06:52 AM   #1
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 6,218
The changing face of rural USA

Just a sign of the times. Some recent changes. My "take" on the situation.

DelMonte Foods just notified 600 workers in our next-door town of Mendota, IL, (pop. 7900) of the local plan closing. In this case, a combination of indirect result of tariffs causing 1. the loss of small farms to larger centralized operations and 2. the effect of the efficiency of million dollar farm equipment... and 3. a consolidation of smaller processing plants.

The local Mall, which serviced towns in a 25 mile radius, has gone from 102 stores to less than 30. (No Anchor stores) An untold number of jobs lost, and of course the loss of taxes to our city. All of this loss compounded by the loss of small farms and the farm worker jobs.

The trickle down effect is a long process... beginning with the loss of higher paying jobs, but initially, the people do not move, and the children continue to go to local public schools, at an average (U.S.) cost of more than $10,000 yr. per student.

All of the above will now be exacerbated by the continued effect of tariffs on soybeans. (An added problem, the shift of soybean planted fields to corn, that will cause an eventual loss of value, as there is no major replacement market.)

The full effect of these changes will likely take place next year, and local governments will strain to maintain services we take for granted today.

.................................................. ..................................................

Another secondary effect of tariffs will be the losses in the U.S. Fishing Industry, particularly lobstering. The current loss exceeds 80% of last years crop, as Canada takes over the supply of lobsters to China. I am a little bit close to this, with old time friends from Maine who are still in the business, and a nephew who lives and works in lobstering on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Almost all of the U.S. losses on the lobster business has or is going to Canada.
.................................................. ..................................................

A world in constant change... not just farming, but Technology, which most here are more familiar. My own son works as the manager of the Technology Department of a Consumer Preference Analysis business in a small town outside of Chicago. With the advance of technology, his department had gone from nine employees to four, and the business itself has a questionable future, as the companies it services may take on the specialty internally.

EDIT This morning's paper.... A local power plant will close too, with the loss of another 80 jobs...(Consolidation or three smaller plants into one larger more distant operation.)
.................................................. .................................................. .

While we will all adapt to the changes, my initial worry for the future is about the eventual problems in Public Education, and the loss of many town services as tax revenues dry up.
.................................................. .................................................. .
A "top of the head" unofficial look... subject to your own facts and interpretation. I hope I'm wrong.
__________________

__________________
We grow too soon old, and too late smart-
Old Dutch saying
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 08-27-2019, 07:39 AM   #2
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 678
every economic downturn you mention in your post have been happening to various degrees in the past 5 decades that I have been on this planet. To blame the China tariffs is the vogue political excuse. All of the things you listed (minus the lobster situation) has happened in rural America for many years/decades. I have many things to say about foreign and domestic economic policy and trade but will not talk about it here for obvious reasons. I hope your son figures out a good solution going forward. We as individuals need to be able and ready to adapt and change with our circumstances.
__________________

__________________
-Big Dawg-FI since 9/2010. Failed ER in 2015. New target 2020.-

-"Blow that dough"-Robbie

" People say I'm lazy, dreaming my life away Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall "Don't you miss the big time, boy. You're no longer on the ball" -John Lennon-
Bigdawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 07:45 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 9,720
It doesn't sound like a bad thing to happen to me. In particular, folks need to move to where the services they need exist. I'm talking about regional hospitals, health care, access to the internet, and trades people to fix things for them. Food can be ordered online.

After all, not many people lived in Illinois in the 1600's and earlier.
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 07:47 AM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Crownsville
Posts: 2,367
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdawg View Post
every economic downturn you mention in your post have been happening to various degrees in the past 5 decades that I have been on this planet....We as individuals need to be able and ready to adapt and change with our circumstances.

Heck, you could argue it's been going on since practically the dawn of time. My maternal Granddad came to Maryland, from North Carolina, as a kid. His Aunt Marsha visited down there one time, in the early 20's I guess, and saw how poor that side of the family was living...tenant farmers, dirt floors, etc. She offered to bring the kids up to Maryland, where things were better. Eventually, the parents followed. But, with the Great Depression, things weren't much better up here, although Granddad was able to get a job on a local government farm, one that later went on to develop that scourge known as the Bradford Pear. Most of the rest of the family moved out of North Carolina as well, although most of them settled in Virginia, rather than Maryland.

On my Dad's side, they lived in Tennessee. Granddad joined the Marines in the 30's, because there was nothing else to do! There was very little work. He got out in 1939, but there was still almost no work down there. I think about all he could do was work at his father's little country store, but there wasn't much future in that. So, he moved up to DC, and got a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

These people didn't just stay put, and blame everything under the sun for their circumstances. They actually put forth the effort to try and improve their condition.
Andre1969 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:01 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Amethyst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 7,656
Having the guts to get up and MOVE is often the key to success, even survival. Our immigrant ancestors are testament to that.
__________________
If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success to be able to spend your life in your own way. Christopher Morley.
Amethyst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:06 AM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 21,575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre1969 View Post
Heck, you could argue it's been going on since practically the dawn of time. ...

These people didn't just stay put, and blame everything under the sun for their circumstances. They actually put forth the effort to try and improve their condition.
Agreed with you and others. I don't get what the OP is getting at.

If one thinks that adapting to change is a problem, what is the alternative? No change?

No thanks. My family, friends and I will adapt.


The tariff comments by OP are probably too far into politics for this forum, but since it was brought up, may I just remind the OP that the current administration bought forth a proposal for everyone to drop all tariffs (The 2018 July G7 summit). That went over with the other members like a lead balloon. I'll stop there.

-ERD50
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:13 AM   #7
Recycles dryer sheets
jetpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 422
They built a soybean processing plant in my area. So, local farmers and workers get a big boost. Chicken houses get cheap local food (soybean meal) and farmers get better prices for their soybeans.

The local mall is still in a downturn though, they are still building stores.. but the shift from malls is substantial.
jetpack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:17 AM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
MRG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 8,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Having the guts to get up and MOVE is often the key to success, even survival. Our immigrant ancestors are testament to that.
+1000

We left home for opportunities and they appeared. Had we stayed at home I wouldn't be fired.
MRG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:23 AM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: LKN
Posts: 13,949
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdawg View Post
every economic downturn you mention in your post have been happening to various degrees in the past 5 decades that I have been on this planet. To blame the China tariffs is the vogue political excuse. All of the things you listed (minus the lobster situation) has happened in rural America for many years/decades. I have many things to say about foreign and domestic economic policy and trade but will not talk about it here for obvious reasons. I hope your son figures out a good solution going forward. We as individuals need to be able and ready to adapt and change with our circumstances.
The OP didn’t blame it on tariffs alone, he acknowledged other factors, and there’s no denying recent tariff wars are exacerbating a decline in some industries/regions.

And while we do have to change and go where the work is, I have some sympathy for folks who live in factory towns (one or two major employers) when the factory wholesale fails. Sometimes it’s apparent in advance, but not always - I’ve seen companies repeatedly reassure workers they’re staying only to leave suddenly. Suddenly worker family homes have lost much of their value and finding buyers is way more unlikely as well - a terrible financial hit on top of unemployment. That’s why I’d never live in a factory town, it’s a recipe for disaster nowadays. Hedging your bets by living in a city/region with diverse industries and many employers is only prudent today. So is moving proactively when possible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu
...combination of indirect result of tariffs causing 1. the loss of small farms to larger centralized operations and 2. the effect of the efficiency of million dollar farm equipment... and 3. a consolidation of smaller processing plants.
__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 45% equity funds / 30% bond funds / 25% cash - radically changed Nov 2018
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:29 AM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 2,074
My cousin has a son in law in the trades that just switched from a non-union shop to a union shop because of the pension. She was thrilled that the kids would not need to save for retirement now. I politely suggested that they look at how chronically underfunded the pension plan is and look at how much Social Security they would get in 35 years with a 25 percent haircut. Maybe a Plan B would be a good idea.

Change isn't just geographic. The economy is changing in many ways and people that observe the trends and plan accordingly are more likely to survive and be successful. Flexibility and the ability to adapt will be key for younger folks. Move, change industries, whatever it takes.
Another Reader is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:36 AM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Crownsville
Posts: 2,367
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Agreed with you and others. I don't get what the OP is getting at.

If one thinks that adapting to change is a problem, what is the alternative? No change? No thanks. My family, friends and I will adapt.
Yep, you HAVE to adapt. And, just to show that nothing changes the same, the places my grandparents used to work are now gone. The Pennsylvania Railroad no longer exists, although the service yard where Granddad used to work is still there in DC. I'm guessing it's Amtrak's domain now. Thanks to automation and other cost cutting, I imagine it doesn't employ as many people as it used to, though, so it's not the guaranteed career-builder it used to be.


That government farm my maternal Granddad worked at? Shuttered, sometime in the late 70's or early 80's I guess. It just sits there, fenced off, slowly returning to nature. And, thanks to those damn plant experiments making combinations Mother Nature never intended, the surrounding area is infested by invasive pear trees that grow thorns once they're a few years old. Grandmom, on that side of the family, worked at the local Glenn Dale Hospital, which got shuttered at the end of 1980, and again, to this day just sits there, slowly decaying. She was old enough to take an early retirement from the federal government, but kept on working, first out of the home and then at another hospital about 15 miles away, until 1970.


So, things change, people adapt. Some jobs die off, others are created. The circle of life, or something like that.
Andre1969 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:38 AM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Amethyst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 7,656
Neither would we. Not to mention probably never gotten 2 masters degrees, lived overseas, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRG View Post
+1000

Had we stayed at home I wouldn't be fired.
__________________
If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success to be able to spend your life in your own way. Christopher Morley.
Amethyst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 08:40 AM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Beaverton
Posts: 1,046
Agree that tariffs probably had little to do with this situation. Maybe in the longer term with different commodities.

I worked in the food industry for decades. I have seen both timber and food processing consolidate over the last 30 years. Timber dying due to restrictions on logging. You want to talk about rural America changing, just look at the closing of lumber mills due to fighting environmentalists and the access of cheap lumber from our neighbor to the north.

Food processing has gone the same route. You don't need canned or frozen processors like before. We have a much more global food supply that allows us to get fresh produce and fruit from South and Central America throughout the year. Canned and frozen items were to tide us over during the winter months. Many of these categories have been dying for years. So, processing is consolidated in order to continue to stay competitive.

It hurts me to see the loss of manufacturing in any case. We have become a service economy. In regards to rural living, there's a push now for many to get out of the cities due to traffic, homelessness, cost of living, etc. Not sure they'll move to the boonies but I'm hoping there is a resurgence back to some smaller dying towns.
__________________
Jump in, the water's warm.
Bir48die is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 09:11 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 5,862
IMO, the cost of labor is the biggest driver. Everyone is trying to find ways to get rid of headcount as it is very often the largest cost of operation.
Today there is an ever increasing amount of regulations, HI considerations, social benefits and wage demands that force employers to automate everything they can.
It's an interesting combination of increasing labor costs coupled to more and more inexpensive automation not just in rural areas but in cities as well.
Humans have made themselves an expensive commodity.
__________________
Living well is the best revenge!
Retired @ 52 in 2005
marko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 09:13 AM   #15
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 197
Small rural towns have never made sense to me. If I was born in one, I'd have moved to a city the second I graduated HS and/or turned 18. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be a slave to the 1 or maybe 2 employers in "town" or the next town over. My spouse's side are small town people, thankfully my spouse saw their way out. Whenever we visit it's just depressing to me. Everyone is broke, there is no place to work, if you do have a job you're almost sort of expecting it vanish any minute, and most spend what little they have at the bar complaining about it all. I know this, because well, my spouse and I ended up buying the town bar that most of my in-laws work at as a way to subsidize all of their retirements (though they will all work until they drop dead.) I always explain that by moving to any 1 of thousand different cities there are good paying, stable jobs as far as the eye can see. That is usually met with blank stares and nonsense about not being able to hunt or whatever. OK, can't imagine being in a mental space where hunting is more important than providing for your family, but hey, you do you.

I get that big city life isn't for everybody, but there are plenty of little cities that are still plenty rural with jobs abound. The roots are deep and I'll never understand it. I love being in a place where if my boss pisses me off, I can go find a six figure job in a week.
DFDubb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 09:53 AM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ivinsfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,452
Quote:
Originally Posted by DFDubb View Post
Small rural towns have never made sense to me. If I was born in one, I'd have moved to a city the second I graduated HS and/or turned 18. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be a slave to the 1 or maybe 2 employers in "town" or the next town over. My spouse's side are small town people, thankfully my spouse saw their way out. Whenever we visit it's just depressing to me. Everyone is broke, there is no place to work, if you do have a job you're almost sort of expecting it vanish any minute, and most spend what little they have at the bar complaining about it all. I know this, because well, my spouse and I ended up buying the town bar that most of my in-laws work at as a way to subsidize all of their retirements (though they will all work until they drop dead.) I always explain that by moving to any 1 of thousand different cities there are good paying, stable jobs as far as the eye can see. That is usually met with blank stares and nonsense about not being able to hunt or whatever. OK, can't imagine being in a mental space where hunting is more important than providing for your family, but hey, you do you.

I get that big city life isn't for everybody, but there are plenty of little cities that are still plenty rural with jobs abound. The roots are deep and I'll never understand it. I love being in a place where if my boss pisses me off, I can go find a six figure job in a week.

Wow, I guess to you small rural towns have zero redeeming features. You make it sound like turning 18 and getting out is akin to a jail break. You lump every single person that stayed into the same category. No, they are not all broke, and they don't all spend their time at the bar complaining about how awful their lives are. You're pretty judgmental to say they think hunting is more important to them then providing for their families.

Small towns are like big towns, some people are happy and some are not.But don't lump all small town people into the same category. I don't even live in a small town, I live in a township with a population of a couple hundred people. Wonder where I fit in?
ivinsfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 09:55 AM   #17
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 836
My wife and I are both from rural areas.
When we were kids, both of our local school districts consolidated with neighboring schools.
Last year, the consolidated school my wife attended closed due to declining enrollment.
Farms got bigger and more automated. Kids can't get jobs walking soybeans or hauling bales any more. Cattle come out of mega feed lots and not 50-100 head herds any more.
While some see that as progress... it now takes thousands of acres to support a family farm vs. 500-600 back in the '70's (and 100 back in the 1870's).

I'd trade city life for rural in a heartbeat. Out there you depend on your neighbors. We've been in this house for 9 years living cheek-to-jowel in a high density neighborhood and I've met ONE neighbor. The other houses have flipped 5 times.
I hate stepping outside and having to smell the neighbors dryer sheets when they do laundry. As the meme says: "If you can't pee off your front porch, the neighbors are too close".
Spock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 09:58 AM   #18
Administrator
Gumby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Milford
Posts: 11,932
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Having the guts to get up and MOVE is often the key to success, even survival. Our immigrant ancestors are testament to that.
There are plenty of people on this site, right now, who moved across the country or even across the oceans to make a better life for themselves.
__________________
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
Gumby is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 10:20 AM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 6,218
A few things.
First... rural USA .... one of the more difficult things that happens, is that the rural areas, particularly farm areas, are usually older. In our Peru, IL city, the median age is 47, vs. the Illinois average of 38. Of course, as many have suggested, the answer to being laid off, is to move... that is also happening, but changing from farming to another work discipline at an older age, is not as easy.

About the tariffs... I understand the concern about the political aspect, that we shouldn't get in to, but the tariff that is causing the soybean problem, is from China, which is changing their import source to Brazil... indirectly part of the fire problem there, as farmers re-purpose the Amazon from forest to farmland. The U.S. soybean shipments to China represented 60% of the U.S. production.

I think the farm community in total, is concerned about the future.
Obviously the movement it to the ultra large corporations, advanced processes, equipment, and with a reduction in the labor force. The time factor for this change is speeding up faster than ever. When I was young, there were 7 million U.S. farms. Today about 2 Million.

As to those who suggest that small towns are not a good choice... perhaps... perhaps today.... but a 47 year old in our town, has been there since 1972, moving, finding a job, a house , and relocating kids in school, not as easy, especially when their job skills are not up to the requirements of the new town.

This problem is not a single person, but hundreds... in the matter of one week. Even with a college education, and a broad based background in many different disciplines, making a move with my four children, was a challenge.

My concern is today, and the future of the youth as the public education costs, (remember 1 year, 1 student average $10,000) causes stress in the local budget.

There's little to be done about what is happening, but to try and understand how fast lives are changing, and realizing that is won't always be smooth.

I have to cut this short, as my son is late for a play date with a kid two streets over, and I have to drive him there.
__________________
We grow too soon old, and too late smart-
Old Dutch saying
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2019, 10:30 AM   #20
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Sojourner's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,090
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Having the guts to get up and MOVE is often the key to success, even survival. Our immigrant ancestors are testament to that.
But is picking up and moving your life to a bigger city with more jobs/opportunities financially feasible for most of these rural folks? I wonder, considering the stats we're always hearing about how the vast majority of people live paycheck to paycheck and most couldn't even produce $1,000 in an emergency without going into debt. Maybe these rural folks just don't have the financial means to pick up and move, especially from a very LCOL area to a higher COL city where jobs are more plentiful.
__________________

Sojourner is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Usa #1, usa #1, usa #1, usa #1, dex Health and Early Retirement 14 02-07-2011 02:46 PM
American Retired in UK Needing To Replace a USA ETF portfolio with USA Stocks/Bonds cvc8445 FIRE and Money 17 06-18-2010 12:41 PM
Usa......usa.....usa........ Dawg52 Other topics 6 07-04-2007 09:54 PM
USA, USA, USA... mickeyd Other topics 6 12-18-2006 02:53 PM

» Quick Links

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:06 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.