03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hickory, N.C.: How One Town Has Been Ravaged By Globalization

HICKORY, N.C. -- The expansion of global trade may enrich the United States, as economists say, but it has overwhelmed this manufacturing area beside the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The region has lost more of its jobs to international competition than just about anywhere else in the nation, according to federal trade-assistance statistics, as textile mills have closed, furniture factories have dwindled and even the fiber-optic plants have undergone mass layoffs. The unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation -- about 15 percent.