Ghost Towns of the 21st Century

BRUCETON, Tenn.—When textile companies started sending jobs overseas in the 1990s, this town wasn’t spared. Here, the Henry I. Siegel company made jeans and suits in three giant plants, employing 1,700. It started laying people off in 1995. Over time, Siegel, known locally as H.I.S., closed its wash plant, its distribution center, and its cutting center. It laid off its last 55 workers in 2000.

In the 15 years since then, this town has struggled to figure out how to survive. The three giant H.I.S. plants in town are empty, their windows broken, their paint peeling. A few new manufacturing operations have come, but they’ve also left. One by one, the businesses on the main streets of Bruceton and neighboring town Hollow Rock have closed, leaving modern-day ghost towns. In downtown Bruceton, the bank is gone, the supermarket and the fashion store have closed, and there’s a parking lot where there used to be another supermarket. All that’s left is a pharmacy where seniors come to get their prescriptions filled.


This is a good article on trade deals in general. An entire class of people, among them your neighbors, friends and family have been written off as surplus.

Yes trade deals benefit the economy, yes they provide access to cheaper goods but that is no consolation when you don’t have a job.

All trade deals have winners and losers, but towns such as Bruceton, which haven’t rebounded after more than a decade raise an important question: If trade is good for the nation, why have the benefits still not reached these towns?

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