WHEN KEN ALEXANDER started working at the J&L steel mill in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, in the 1970s, he was one of 17,000 workers. But the workforce quickly declined as the American steel industry withered in the face of cheaper foreign competition. In 1984 J&L shut the mill. Four years ago another mill where Mr Alexander had found a job, across the Ohio river in Ambridge, also stopped work because of the recession. He was one of a skeleton staff of 20 kept on as watchmen.
Derelict mills pepper the region, loose sidings flapping in the frigid Appalachian wind.