The South Has the Fastest-Growing Economies and the Least Economic Mobility for the Poor

The South Has the Fastest-Growing Economies and the Least Economic Mobility for the Poor

Overview

Similarly, a 2012 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that while eight states primarily in New England and the Mideast U.S. have higher upward mobility and lower downward mobility than the national average — Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah — nine Southern states have lower-than-average upward mobility and higher downward mobility. Those states are Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

As the Network for Southern Economic Mobility has noted, more than 50 percent of Americans living in high-poverty communities are in the South. Poverty rates are higher in the South, with one quarter of children living in poverty, as opposed to the national average of one-fifth, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Based on federal data, Florida is the only Southern state whose minimum wage exceeds the federal lower limit of $7.25. Red states, particularly the Southern states, depend more on government than blue states. For example, a 50-state data analysis from WalletHub found that Mississippi receives about $3 for every $1 it pays in federal taxes, while Alabama and Louisiana receive slightly more than $3. Florida receives over $4.50 from the federal government for every dollar it sends to the IRS, and South Carolina receives $7.87. Yet, the former Jim Crow states tend to eschew government the most and treat their people the worst regarding health coverage, education and other measures.

The deeply impoverished in the urban centers of the Deep South find themselves out of luck and with nowhere to turn in a region where unemployment is already high and wages are low. As The Washington Post reported in 2015, the poor have been pushed out of the center of metropolitan areas and away from employment due to the rising cost of real estate and harmful government policies. Cash-assistance programs and other social safety-net measures have been decimated and the Southern poor are more likely to be single parents with no help, as five of the six states with the highest percentage of single parents are in the Deep South. Often displaced from the center of town, they rely more on public transportation, which is of the worst quality in the nation. White Southern Republicans oppose mass transit systems, keeping low income and Black people entrenched in poverty with little opportunity for advancement. Opposition to spending for infrastructure, social services and other initiatives reflects a Republican mindset against government programs under the assumption they will help Black people.