Should-Read: John Austin: A tale of two Rust Belts: Diverging economic paths shaping community politics: “Some communities have assets (and have advanced strategies to build on those assets)…

…that now find them and their residents not only participating in, but actually leading the move to a more knowledge-based, technology-driven and urbanized economy. Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee are today economically diversified, dynamic and growing metro economies. Big university towns like Madison, Ann Arbor, and Bloomington are magnets of state talent, innovation centers, and largely recession-proof. All of these communities are attracting and keeping highly educated populations, producing rising incomes, and maintain a diversified economic base. They are no longer beholden as manufacturing monocultures, as was the norm across the region fifty years ago when Minneapolis was “Flour City,” or Pittsburgh as the “Steel City.” And these communities all voted “blue” last fall.

It’s a very different story in many other Rust Belt communities, however. The small- and medium-sized factory towns that dot the highways and byways of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have lost their anchor employers and are struggling to fill the void. Many of these communities, including once solidly Democratic-voting, union-heavy, blue collar strongholds, flipped to Trump in 2016…

February 3, 2018


Brad DeLong
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