Rural Americans Are Living A Fantasy

Joe Merkle
4 min readNov 28, 2020
Image by Jeff Swensen — Getty Closed Steel Mills Johnstown, PA

Over the last two decades, many rural Americans have seen drastic changes in their communities. The city hubs that once supported their greater rural areas have seen steel, tobacco, textile, and automotive plants close. Not only did these plants provide the highest wages, but they also offered quality healthcare for the employees. To be honest, this trend is eliminating middle-income jobs across the country, a leading factor in the decline of the American middle class.

Like so many jobs in the United States, these jobs will NOT return. Millions already unemployed face losing health benefits. Politicians will preach to them from the stump, spewing lies about how they will bring these jobs back to the area. Or create new jobs for the perpetually unemployed. Out of sheer desperation, their constituents will believe this utter nonsense.

The reasons are many why these businesses left rural environments for greener pastures.

1. Lack of an educated, trained labor pool.

2. Lack of access to a major transportation hub to move product.

3. Businesses that have seen cutbacks due to shortages of customers/clients.

4. Businesses that have shut their doors permanently.

Corporations and businesses are not static enterprises. To compete in today’s business world successfully companies are regularly examining new methods to gain an edge over their competition. Beyond updating their business plans to compete in an ever-growing tech economy they are always on the hunt for their next superstar employee.

All of this is counterculture to rural America. Rural Americans by and large do not like change. They go out of their way to avoid it. They live in mostly static communities not because they must. They choose to. They are not particularly fond of neighbors that think differently or look differently.

This should come as no surprise. Rural communities are far less secular than urban communities. Their beliefs largely go unquestioned and are excepted as undeniable truths. Curiosity is the precursor to personal growth. Without it, one becomes stagnant and stubbornly opinionated.

I now live in a rural town of 12,000 — the big city in the county — in Arkansas…



Joe Merkle

I write about love, life, loss, kindness, and gratitude. Toss in some fiction and humor and you have the meanderings of a multifarious writer.