Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Small Town Blues

In recent weeks, there's been a lot of talk about how higher gas prices might promote a shift of people migrating back to core cities from the suburbs.

The Kansas City Star had a story recently about how higher gas prices might also harm small town America.

From the story:

"For thousands of small-town residents across the country who drive long distances to jobs that pay little more than minimum wage, the high cost of gas is making that daily commute cost-prohibitive.

So much so that economists predict that over the next few years, the country could see a migration that would greatly reduce the population of Small Town America — resulting in a painful shift away from lifestyle, family roots, traditions and school ties."

I don't know about the painful shift, but I know that for my parents, the price of gas has actually meant spending more of their income in their teeny, tiny west Texas town (of course, they actually work in the town in which they live). The closest mall to them is about 50 miles away in Abilene, but their town has a few shops, a two-screen, double-decker movie theater, and a McDonald's.

A few years ago, they would drive to Abilene about once a week to buy groceries. It was kind of a trek, but it was worth it for the savings. Now, with the cost of gas, they're opting to buy from their local grocery store.

So, in at least one respect, it seems like high gas prices would be beneficial to small town America.

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