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Very high increases in State economic areas' indexes outside the South included Arizona 2a, which had the highest State economic area index in the nation and a large increase of 45 percent, and California area 8, which showed a 33 percent increase between 1950 and 1954. Generally, there were few such increases occurring outside the South which exceeded the national average increase of 15 percent. Especially in the Corn Belt and the dairy areas of the Northeast, there were many area indexes which rose by only quite small percentages.
INDEXES RISE IN LOW-INCOME AREAS BUT ARE STILL FAR BELOW AVERAGE
Since the beginning of the Rural Development Program much interest has been shown in data relating specifically to low-income areas designated for special programs (see chart 5). These are single State economic areas or groups of areas in which, among other factors present, level-of-living indexes are very much lower than for other areas in the country. Separate level-of - living indexes for these areas, in generalized geographic blocks, have been computed (table 4). For the low-income areas as a whole, the indexes for both 1950 and 1954 were far below the national average of county indexes. In 1950, the average indexes for the low-income areas and the rest of the country as a whole were 84 and 147, respectively; in 1954, they were 106 and 162, respectively. The differential changed from 75 to 53 percent.
Although the level of living of the farm people in the low-income areas is low compared to that of the rest of the country, substantial improvement had been made by 1954. In counties in the areas designated as "Serious" low-income, index rises between 1950 and 1954 were sometimes over 100 percent. However, the striking quality of these high percentage increases is tempered by the fact that in most cases the areas started with very low 1950 indexes and still have indexes which are far below average. But they show a definite and continued trend in the widening use of conveniences even in a period of falling income and shrinking purchasing power.
In the Mississippi Delta the index rose from 72 to 101, or 40 percent, in the period. Another area which had a spectacular percentage increase in indexes was the Southeastern Hilly area of Mississippi and Alabama, where the index ros from 63 to 87, or 38 percent. The other low-income areas in the South all had marked percentage increases also, with the possible exception of the Appalachian Mountain area, where the rise was only 22 percent.
The Northern Lake area, formerly called the "cutover," was a point above the national average of indexes in 1950, but three points below it in 1954. This area had the lowest percentage increase in index, though it had the second-highest index for the lowincome areas. The Cascade and Rocky Mountain areas remained above the average of all county indexes, by 7 points in 1954 as compared to 8 in 1950.
FARM-OPERATOR FAMILY LEVEL-OF-LIVING INDEXES, 1950
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS