In the decade since the Great Recession, many American cities and towns have bounced back. But for some small and mid-size cities that were once hubs for innovation and manufacturing, economic recovery has remained elusive. Frontline: Left Behind in America asks why and is an in-depth look at one such city, Dayton, Ohio, as its citizens continue to fight for economic revitalization ten years after the financial crisis.
The DVD will be available on DVD on November 20. The program is currently available for download from iTunes and Amazon.
Gripping and powerful, this documentary chronicles the lives and struggles of Dayton’s working poor as they chase the American dream in the new American economy. As director Shimon Dotan and correspondent Alec MacGillis of ProPublica explore in the film, Dayton was once the epitome of industry and ingenuity in the American heartland—“the Silicon Valley of its age,” author Mark Bernstein tells the documentary team, a birthplace of aviation and a center of the automotive industry.
Although Dayton’s job market has recently seen a resurgence, the jobs coming back to the city aren’t the high-wage jobs that used to be there–and the poverty rate in Dayton has reached 34.5 percent, or nearly three times the poverty rate nationwide.
In addition to the economic downturn, the city has also been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. By early 2017, county coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger was seeing so many overdose deaths that he was worried Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, would end up leading the nation in fatal opioid overdoses per capita.
But despite the obstacles, many Dayton citizens are taking matters into their own hands—and focusing not just on surviving, but thriving.
The program is the intimate story of one Rust Belt city’s struggle to recover in the post-recession economy—and an up-close look at how that struggle presents a challenge to us all.