By early 2008, Chen Hong had more than doubled his salary at this factory, which makes furniture for export to the U.S. Surrounding Guangdong province was suffering from a labor shortage so migrants like Chen could pick and choose where they worked. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR

Lenoir is a city of 18,000 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hard-hit by outsourcing of furniture jobs and the recession, the city's downtown sees little traffic. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR