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Small Mining Towns Boom While Everyone Else Busts

Mining towns in Lander County, NV are skipping the recession, thanks to a local economy based on gold.
January 2, 2009, 11am PST | Tim Halbur
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"'I don't know of anybody who is getting foreclosed on; it's just not something that's an issue out here,' Charlotte Thompson, 56, said, shrugging as she seated diners on a frigid, wind-swept evening at the Owl Club Casino and Restaurant, the main attraction of Battle Mountain's four-block main thoroughfare, Front Street. 'That's the way it usually goes, though. We're always opposite of the rest of the country.'

To grasp how anomalous Battle Mountain is now, consider the data. Home foreclosures, as Ms. Thompson noted, are unheard of here, even though November was the 23rd consecutive month that Nevada had the nation's highest foreclosure rate.

Unemployment in Lander County was 4.8 percent in November, while the statewide rate of 8 percent was the state's highest since 1984. Two goldless counties bordering Lander, Nye and Pershing, had unemployment rates in November of 10.5 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Even with annual salaries for average mining jobs starting at more than $60,000, the two largest mining companies in the area, Barrick and Newmont, cannot find enough qualified workers to fully staff their operations round-the-clock. Mr. Dias, the friend of the newlyweds, is working six days a week. "

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Published on Thursday, January 1, 2009 in The New York Times
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