Explosion pit mine - alicenerr-RF.jpg

METALINE FALLS, Wash. (AP) - Times are tough in a rural county in northeast Washington state because one of the region's biggest employers is shutting down.

The Pend Oreille Mine, just north of Metaline Falls, closed on July 31, at a cost of about 200 family wage jobs in an area of less than 1,000 residents.

It's another sign of the imbalance of prosperity in Washington state. While the Seattle area gorges on high-paying jobs, many rural counties like Pend Oreille County that depend on natural resource industries - logging, fishing, mining - are suffering.

This divide is part of a national trend. People in urban areas had higher per-capita income, lower poverty rates, lower unemployment rates and higher education levels than people in rural areas in recent years, according to federal data.

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