The Appalachian Region
The Appalachian Region, as defined in ARC's authorizing legislation, is a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Forty-two percent of the Region's population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.
The Region's economy, once highly dependent on mining, forestry, agriculture, chemical industries, and heavy industry, has become more diversified in recent times, and now includes a variety of manufacturing and service industries. In 1965, one in three Appalachians lived in poverty. In 2008, the Region's poverty rate was 18 percent. The number of Appalachian counties considered economically distressed was 223 in 1965; in fiscal year 2013 that number is 98.
These gains have transformed the Region from one of widespread poverty to one of economic contrasts: some communities have successfully diversified their economies, while others still require basic infrastructure such as roads and water and sewer systems. The contrasts are not surprising in light of the Region's size and diversity. The Region includes 420 counties in 13 states. It extends more than 1,000 miles, from southern New York to northeastern Mississippi, and is home to more than 25 million people.
Economic Status of Appalachian Counties