Can Small Town America Survive the End of Cheap Gas?

With few local job opportunities, residents in small towns have grown accustomed to long commutes to cities. But with high gas prices making those commutes unaffordable, some economists wonder how much longer small towns can retain their populations.

"Factories in many towns closed years ago as small companies folded or manufacturers sent jobs overseas. Mom-and-pop stores gave way to Wal-Marts in bigger towns. When those changes occurred, jobs and shopping required trips out of town.

And now, gas prices are at all-time highs.

For thousands of small-town residents across the country who drive long distances to jobs that pay little more than minimum wage, the high cost of gas is making that daily commute cost-prohibitive.

So much so that economists predict that over the next few years, the country could see a migration that would greatly reduce the population of Small Town America - resulting in a painful shift away from lifestyle, family roots, traditions and school ties."

"The expected exodus from small towns, said Don Macke, a widely considered authority on rural economics and head of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Neb., will be far more profound than the gradual erosion that has been going on since World War II. That decline was due to the country's shift away from an agrarian economy and a choice for convenience: People wanted to be closer to jobs, shopping and entertainment.

The new flight, Macke thinks, will be more out of necessity."

Full Story: High gas prices threaten to drain small towns’ populations

Comments

Comments

What a bizarre analysis

This is so wrongheaded. The lure of small towns is stronger and stronger and the real job is to actually grow them and develop jobs that are local. High gas prices and climate change are forcing new localism, and that's going to ultimately be a good thing.

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.
$24.00

Wear your city with style!

100% silk scarves feature detailed city maps. Choose from six cities with red or blue trim.
$55.00