Employment growth in the nonmetropolitan South exceeds the national average, yet job losses are the norm for many counties in the region. In addition, the earnings per job differential between workers in the rural South and the nation has widened. Recent changes in the economic environment promise new challenges for many southern nonmetropolitan communities. The new economy is characterized by continued growth in service-reIated activities, the rapid adoption of new technologies and production organizations. corporate restructuring and industry clustering, and enhanced competitiveness resulting from globalization of markets. The implications of these changes for labor demand in rural areas will vary markedly depending on local history. characteristics, and responses to the changes. Competitiveness in the new environment will be enhanced through raising labor productivity, improving public goods and services, providing supportive institutions, and raising local quality of life.

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