Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal and the Atlantic's Jim Fallows interview Brenda Lathan in Columbus, Mississippi.
Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal and the Atlantic's Jim Fallows interview Brenda Lathan in Columbus, Mississippi. - 
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About a year and a half ago, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal visited Columbus, Mississippi for a couple of days with “Atlantic Magazine” correspondent Jim Fallows and his wife Deb. The trip was part of a collaboration called “American Futures,” which takes a look at the health of the American economy on a more granular level – in individual cities across America.

Part of the goal of “American Futures” is to track how economies are doing over time so an update was in order.

Jim and Deb Fallows were just down in Columbus to see how things are going now, and spoke with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal.

On weighing recent progress against past hardship:   

It’s a part of the country that, in ways people there understand better than anyone else does, has been backward, divisive, has had terrible politics and terrible violence and race relations over the decades, over the centuries. Still poor, still a lot of people who are unemployed, still very high welfare dependent, still ranked number 49 or 50 in the nation by a number of measures… The challenge in describing this part of the country is how to place in proper perspective the things that are getting better in a region that still has some of the most serious problems in the country.  

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Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal