Letter to the Editor

Unemployment tougher for rural communities

Friday, October 14, 2011

To the editor:

I am a student at Arkansas State University Master of Social Work program. In social work policy advocacy class, we are to discuss a social welfare issue.

Unemployment is a big social welfare issue in Arkansas as well as across the world. Unemployment rates have been fluctuating since 1990. According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rates for Arkansas is 8.3 percent as of August 2011. In January 1990, the rates were 6.7 percent and began to decrease in the late 1990s-2000s.

The unemployment rates affect the rural communities such as Mississippi County in a way that doesn't in the bigger counties. As a resident of Mississippi County, there are a lot of issues to talk about in this county; however, I could only choose one issue to discuss at this time. I see businesses come and go constantly in Mississippi County all the time. Lately, businesses have come and stayed open for about a year or less and then they close the doors. The buildings are left empty and/or boarded up. It has been studied that in rural communities, when the unemployment rates are high, the crime rates are on the rise. The Mississippi County crime rate has been on the rise as well as the unemployment rates.

Recently, the unemployment office has been moved from the city of Blytheville to Burdette, therefore causing a strain for the people that don't have transportation or money to pay a taxi driver. The job market for our area is at a low right now. One of the major factories (Milwaukee Tool) in Blytheville closed and moved overseas. This caused the unemployment rate for Mississippi County to rise.

Social workers advocate for people to become self-sufficient and empower them to better themselves. However, with limited resources available in the rural communities it becomes a hardship on families to become self-sufficient. In my opinion, if more businesses were to come into the community this will offer more job opportunities to the unemployed citizens and for those with no work history to have a start. I am not sure how to remedy this issue but it would be a great idea for someone other than me to voice an opinion and start doing something about it.

Cyntwynet Hopkins, BSW
MSW Student