In many ways, Adams County consists of two separate economies. One economy is made up of relatively affluent entrepreneurs; professionals employed by the college, Wellspan, legal and financial firms, and employers outside the county; and growing numbers of retirees from higher cost areas. Then there is a second, consisting of people employed in low wage jobs whose life is a daily struggle to get by. Poverty was a serious problem in Adams County even before the Corona virus arrived. Almost a third of local residents (most of them employed) lived below the level of a living wage, even in a time of full employment.

These inequalities worsened significantly when the Corona virus hit. For many in the first economy, “work from home,” Zoom, Netflix, and carryout made the pandemic a minor inconvenience, while for those in the second economy the pandemic threatened financial ruin. The Adams County unemployment rate shot up from less than 5% to nearly 15% and signs of economic hardship were visible immediately. Tourism was reduced to nearly zero for several months and bars and restaurants were forced to close. Since the area began to partially reopen in May, there has been a modest improvement. But it is likely that the worst impacts of the pandemic haven’t been felt yet. Special unemployment assistance and assistance to businesses have run out, eviction protections are subject to termination, the recovery of tourism has been weak, and the vast achievement gap in local schools has undoubtedly grown more severe.

Leon Reed is a former congressional aide and history teacher and is an author of several books on military history. He is the chair of Gettysburg DFA.

(1) comment

James Rife

" Locally, the black community is demanding an end to abusive policing and other discriminatory practices in housing, lending, and employment. " ---Look again Leon. It's not local blacks complaining, but mostly bored white liberals from out of town. And what abusive policing is going on in Gettysburg? As for the economic ruin of the service industry employees, you might want to look at the power-drunk King Wolf for that. He could care less about businesses and what is unconstitutional mandates and orders have done to them and their employees.

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