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There's an Antidote to America's Long Economic Malaise: College Towns

January 23, 2017View for printing

Lee County, Ala., lost 7,000 jobs in industries from textiles to tires to fitness equipment when Chinese competition invaded America. Vacant storefronts dotted downtown Opelika, the county seat, and disability claims soared as older workers with limited skills struggled to find new jobs.

Instead of merely surviving, though, Lee County is now thriving. Its unemployment rate of 4.7% in October was slightly lower than for the U.S. as a whole. Since 2001, the east-central Alabama county has added 14,000 jobs, five times the growth rate in the rest of the country.

"Better educated places with colleges tend to be more productive and more able to shift out of declining industries into growing ones," says Mark Muro, a Brookings urban specialist. "Ultimately, cities survive by continually adapting their economies to new technologies, and colleges are central to that."

By Bob Davis | Photos by Bob Miller for The Wall Street Journal

Full Story: http://www.wsj.com/articles/theres-a ... -1481558522
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