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Hard times in swing state Ohio

Youngstown, in north-east Ohio, was once a steel-making boomtown. But its steel mills closed in the 70s and 80s, leaving its citizens jobless and desperate. Today, the swing state's eyes and hopes hang on the presidential candidates.

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FRANCE 24 reporters Cyril Vanier and Frank Berruyer take us to the streets of Youngstown, Ohio, one of America’s fastest-dying cities.

Ten years ago Bruce Springsteen wrote his now-famous lament to Youngstown. Since then very little has changed.

In the 1970s, when steel work was in its prime, the town was a flourishing industrial centre. Today, all the old factories have closed down and the place is almost a ghost-town. Unemployment runs at 10%. Hundreds of the town’s 60,000 citizens leave Youngstown each year in search of employment and better prospects. In the past thirty years, Youngstown has lost half of its population.

Those left behind struggle to make ends meet. Scrappers in junk-yards sift though rubble for shreds of metal that can be sold to used-car garages. “This is what you do in Youngstown, to survive. Feed your family, pay your rent,” says one scrapper.

With another financial crisis looming, many are afraid that things will become even worse.

Just weeks before the presidential elections, all eyes are on the two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, with hopes that they will implement policies that will improve living and working conditions. Ohio is a key swing state eyed by both candidates. But will they keep their promises to the jobless and the desperate?

 

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