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Stories From the Line: Towns on the Edge

The numbers are numbing - plant closings idle hundreds, sometimes thousands, of workers. It ripples through the economy spreading more job loss. The latest figures have Ohio’s unemployment rate at over 7% - that’s the highest it’s been since the early 90s.

In a time when job loss statistics can cause your eyes to glaze over, ideastream searches out the human stories behind the cold numbers in this 30-minute special, Towns on the Edge, which originally aired on WVIZ/PBS January 27, 2009.

View Stories From the Line: Towns on the Edge

More About the Program

This WVIZ/PBS production takes viewers to three Ohio towns that are heavily dependent on one major industry:

  • Wilmington, a former farming community in the southwest part of the state, enjoyed great prosperity until the package delivery firm DHL announced it was shutting down its U.S. operations, leaving some 8,000 people out of work.
  • Closer to home, the village of Lordstown, near Warren, has endured years of uncertainty over the fate of its General Motors assembly plant. The factory is currently shut down, which has been a big blow to the local economy. But, last year’s announcement that GM would start producing the fuel efficient Chevy Cruze has given hope to the unemployed workers of this region.
  • The region around the tiny village of Anna in central Ohio has enjoyed a couple of prosperous decades, thanks to the presence of a bustling Honda plant. But, last month, the Japanese carmaker announced that it was slowing production in response to slumping car sales. No layoffs yet, but it’s still another example of how vulnerable a region can be when too much of the city’s economy is heavily invested with one industry.

Throughout this program, viewers meet people in these three communities and hear how they are weathering some tough times. One of the more poignant images comes from Wilmington where the former employees of a jet service that ran DHL’s airbase have red signs on display in their front yards. The signs show their loyalty to a company that kept food on the table for years. Now, the signs provide striking evidence of just how many people are out of work and facing an uncertain future.

Listen to the report that inspired the program, "What Happens When A Third Of The Jobs In One Town Disappear?"

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