Map #3. The Southernization of America: State poverty rates, with the highest level in the old Confederacy.
As you can see, the poverty rates in Southern states is high. As Mark Gongioff observed in the Huffington Post last summer, “the South is essentially a solid, grim block of poverty.”
North Carolina and a handful of other Southern U.S. states saw the biggest increases in the number of people living in what are known as “poverty areas” between 2000 and 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report.
The Southernization of America has also resulted in swiftly increasing levels of poverty in other states as well, especially in the Midwest and Western states. As explained in the American Prospect, pressures created by cheap labor from abroad and the low wages and lack of workers’ rights in the South have dragged all of our wages down. Even as more and more factories open up in the South, workers’ inflation-adjusted pay keeps falling.
One reason wages continued to fall throughout the Deep South, despite the influx of jobs, is the region’s distinctive absence of legislation and institutions that protect workers’ interests.
As outsourcing to places like China and India grows less cost-effective, due to demands for higher pay and tougher environmental and safety regulations, the much-missed manufacturing jobs are coming back. Unfortunately, they no longer pay well because the U.S. is swiftly becoming the new Third World.
Continues on the next page: Map #4. The Southernization of America: Evangelical Christians.