Left Behind America

60 min. Shimon Dotan, Frontline w/ProPublica, dist. by PBS, shoppbs.org. 2018. DVD ISBN 9781531708160. $24.99. ECON
This program examines Dayton, OH, as a microcosm of Rust Belt cities trapped in economic decline. Using historic footage and interviews with local business and political leaders, it shows how the city had been economically sound until the 1960s, when affluent citizens began migrating to the suburbs, leaving the metropolis weakened. In the next decades, according to the program, the entire region began losing good paying industrial jobs as globalization allowed corporations to shift production offshore, with more companies fleeing the decaying city and creating a downward spiral. Because the local economy had been based upon repetitive physical labor, drug companies targeted Dayton with an abundance of opioids, opening the door to the current epidemic, which in turn has strained government resources. A recent manufacturing revival works with a new model based on lower wages and weaker benefits, leaving workers struggling. The documentary warns that beyond its own tragedy, the decline of Dayton and similar cities endangers the national economic picture.
VERDICT The documentary sums up the region's problems astutely and is highly recommended to everyone with an interest in the region or the nation's economy overall.
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