Small Town Happiness

There is nothing quite like small-town rural living. Despite accounting for 97% of U.S. land, only 19.3% of the population live in these areas.

The Vancouver School of Economics did a survey in 2018 showing that not only were residents of small towns happier, but they were eight times happier than people who lived in large cities.

As researchers continue to study happiness, several benefits of rural living have emerged. Some of these include:

  • Slower pace
  • Fewer crowds
  • Less crime
  • Lower cost of living
  • Less traffic
  • Cleaner air
  • Close-knit community

Unfortunately, to enjoy these benefits, people living in rural America must either accept lower wages or commute to larger towns and cities for work.


Small Town Wage Disparity

Those living in a big city are likely to say the recent recession is over. However, for those living in small town America, this is not true. Even though new jobs have been created across the U.S., rural America is not part of that trend. Current census data shows that the rural job market is 4.26% smaller than it was in 2008. Anyone can see this by driving through a rural town and simply counting the number of vacant storefronts. Plus, those jobs that are available tend to pay significantly less than jobs found in the city.

This leads to rural poverty, with 16.7% of the rural population below the poverty line. In fact, about a third of the working poor live on $12,000 or less per year for a family of four, struggling to make ends meet with employment that does not provide a living wage.

Is there a solution to this generational poverty in rural towns?


Rural Revitalization Through Advanced Apparel Manufacturing

What if you could have the benefits of rural living and also have access to an attractive, high-paying job? Believe it or not, advanced apparel manufacturing may be the solution – creating livable wage jobs for small-town residents.

The economic drivers that sent manufacturing to Asia are outdated. New economic drivers fueled by e-commerce, fast deliveries, and Industry 4.0 technology are bringing apparel manufacturing back to the United States, specifically to rural communities.

For small towns, Industry 4.0 apparel manufacturing can provide careers with livable wages that do not require excessive education or training. In fact, as the apparel industry adopts Industry 4.0, rural communities have the opportunity to become globally competitive.

Price, Utah, a rural community with a population of just over 9,000 people, is beginning to reap the benefits of rural revitalization through the apparel industry. In 2018, FutureINDesign and Blacksmith International entered into a public/private partnership, leveraging Industry 4.0 by building a state-of-the-art manufacturing and training facility in the town. Conservative estimates show that for every manufacturing facility created, there will be 200 new jobs every five years, bringing hundreds of new jobs to Price and other rural communities in Utah.

As the apparel industry embraces Industry 4.0, rural residents can enjoy the benefits of small town living while having a local career with a livable wage. For those who love small town America, it appears they can now have their cake and eat it too.


Blacksmith International is a global supply chain management company.