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Union County is tucked in northern Florida, half an hour north of Gainesville and an hour west of Jacksonville. It’s Florida’s smallest county, a mostly unremarkable landlocked stretch of pine forest interspersed with lakes.
More than 15,000 people call it home, working largely in healthcare, transportation and public administration. The state prison and Target distribution center are among the county’s notable employers. The unemployment rate is low at around 4 percent, but most jobs aren’t high paying. As a result, Union County is Florida’s poorest county by per capita income.
New research shows something else that makes Union County unique: it’s ground zero for the economic damage that climate change will cause in the U.S.