Previous research shows that the Southern Black Belt compares badly to the rest of the U.S., in terms of poverty, median incomes, mortality, unemployment rates, and educational levels. This study updates those earlier studies with 2000 and 2005 data to statistically assess these problems’ recent severity, and examines trends since 1980 to assess the Black Belt’s progress or regress relative to the rest of the South and the NonSouth. I used Census and other federal data for the analysis. The Black Belt’s education levels have improved substantially, nearly catching up with other regions. Yet compared with the rest of the U.S., the Black Belt lags on other indicators. This lag is narrowing somewhat for poverty rates, but not for unemployment or median family income. Perhaps most seriously, although the Black Belt’s infant mortality has declined, it remains much worse than in other regions – and that chasm has grown dramatically. Government programs have mitigated such economic, educational, and health problems in the past, and should serve this role again.

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