Change in employment 2001-2011: -13.6 percent
Unemployment: 11.7 percent
Poverty level: 14.4 percent
Median income: $40,181
Unemployment in Hickory, NC, soared from 2 percent to 16 percent during the recession, according to USA Today. The jobless rate has since decreased to 11.7 percent, although this is still significantly higher than the national average of 9.1 percent. The area’s economy is largely based on the production of furniture and fiber optics. Both industries have seen mass layoffs in recent years. According to an article in the Washington Post, “the region has lost more of its jobs to international competition than just about anywhere else in the nation.”
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