Manufacturing Industries Showing No Signs of Recovery

Although we are now officially coming out of the recession, many cities are still struggling to find ways to make money now. Cities that relied heavily on manufacturing, particularly places that had only one main industry to rely on, are now feeling the dreading results of the economic turmoil now that closing doors has become the only option.

Ravenswood, West Virginia suffers a blow

Ravenswood, West Virginia was a city whose main industry was manufacturing. The state mass produced various commodities for the world and employed thousands in its one big factory. When the recession began, so did layoffs. They continued until the plant officially shut down in the beginning of 2009 and now residents are wondering if recovery will every happen. Unfortunately, Ravenswood residents are not unlike millions across the country who sat by helplessly watching their city fall to the harrowing economic times of the past 18 months. The question they have though is: Will their city be able to recover, or is it now relegated to remain a ghost town?

The many lagging cities

Throughout the US there are a wide range of cities that are taking a wait-and-see attitude towards recovery. Here are some of the hardest hit cities: (

  • Madawaska, Maine. Last month the city’s workers agreed to an 8.5% cut in their wages in an effort to keep the paper mill alive. The mill employs over 1,000 people of the city’s population of 4,000. The cut, though necessary, is not good news for the city and many people believe that the worst is yet to come.
  • Glenwood, Washington. This is a small city with a population of just over 500. The city’s forest products industry is taking a staggering hit due to flat lumber prices and increasing land costs. Recovery is almost impossible according to analysts because of the city’s over-reliance on just one industry.
  • Georgetown, South Carolina. This is a larger city than the other two. But, with a population of just over 9,000, it still is not impervious to the problems of a lagging economy. The city’s steel mill closed last year and caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket. With few alternative options, the population is at a loss when it comes to finding jobs without relocating.

The crux of the issue

Though a lag in pay can thwart anyone’s motivation, the real problem for workers in areas hit hardest by the recession is an uncertainty. When a city’s main industry is stifled so ubiquitously, it’s hard for the population to regroup or find any hope in a future turnaround. For example, Ravenswood’s residents knew the closing of its main factory was coming for months. Some jumped ship early-on, while others remained hopeful. Once the plant closed, that hope was all but gone. Now people are seriously considering relocating because most likely the jobs the plant provided will never return.

Analysts check in on the problem

Many analysts are studying the new post-recessionary condition carefully and reporting back with little optimism. Mostly the issue is that the country has never had the same pressures as it does now. In past years, if a farmer lost his or her land to fire or drought, he could pick up and move relatively easily to another location. A steel mill worker who was laid off due to a plant closing could move to a new city for a job. In today’s market, that is no longer a possibility for hundreds of thousands of workers. States that rely heavily on manufacturing are all having problems with recovery and workers are hard-pressed to find employment. Experts expect workers to have to do a complete 180-degree turnaround, career-wise, and only those who manage to do so will survive. Those that don’t may remain in financial turmoil for many years to come.

Other recent posts by bryanh