‘It’s like they’re trying to push us out’: In the Delta, people are concerned about jobs, not politics

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MARKS, Miss. — Instead of a sign of opportunity, a new Amtrak station here feels more like an invitation to get out.
The station, funded by a $500,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and which connects commuters to Chicago and New Orleans, opened in May to the dismay of some residents.
“How many people do you see working there?” Kenny Stanford, 54, said over a Friday afternoon game of bones just blocks away.
The train stop’s clean brick structure and black metal benches, which is empty of commuters and, to Stanford’s point, employs no workers, contrasts the Delta town’s many shuttered storefronts, abandoned factories and crumbling homes. Nearly one-third of Marks’ 1,600 people live in poverty and the surrounding Quitman County has an unemployment rate of 9 percent, well over the state’s 5.3 percent.
Anna Wolfe / Mississippi TodayA $500,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration contributed to a new Marks, Miss., Amtrak stop that opened in May.
Mississippi Today dispatched reporters to all corners of the state to ask citizens about the most important issues in their communities. In the Delta, a large number of people we interviewed were largely unfamiliar with the candidates and only vaguely aware that the midterms are approaching. But they know one thing – the Delta needs more, better paying jobs as fast as possible.
The economic anxiety among Deltans is underscored in a recent NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll of 1,152 adults in which 32 percent of respondents said jobs and the economy is the issue that matters most to them.
The online poll, which included 985 registered voters, was conducted between September 9 and September 24.  After the economy, health care and education also ranked high for voters’ most pressing concern.
The survey also found that 37 percent of people polled said jobs and the economy should be state government’s top priority. The