Friday, May 13, 2016

The Sun Belt's Broken Promise

Ah, the allure of the Sun Belt. Air conditioning conquered the climate. The federal government papered over racism. State governors shifted oppressive tactics from African-Americans to unions. Most significantly, the warmth of other suns offered the anarchy of sprawl. Legacy costs were a Yankee problem.

Rust Belt shamers such as economist Edward Glaeser and journalist Richard Longworth seized on this new narrative. Whatever the wealthy manufacturing states did wrong, the greenfield South did right. Population change told the tale of the tape. Ohio is dying. North Carolina is thriving. A contemporary mesofacts migration:


For decades, Raleigh and other cities in the US Sun Belt have lured workers from fading industrial centres in the north and midwest, promising jobs and a lower cost of living. But as Mr Perry’s experience shows, even success stories like Raleigh are showing signs of economic malaise.

How now brown town? Eventually, every region will have Rust Belt problems. China has Rust Belt problems. Don't get me started on Japan and the 1980s movie, "Gung Ho." This kid born in Erie, Pennsylvania has seen a litany of would-be economic champions come and go. The Sun Belt has joined the long line of suitors for Penelope.

Most industrial centres, such as Pittsburgh, are done fading. Relative to Pittsburgh, how does Raleigh look now? Like a failure.

US Middle Class

Concerning population, Glaeser's preferred metric of success, Raleigh towers over Pittsburgh. Concerning income growth, Pittsburgh towers over Raleigh. You can have your population victory lap, Sun Belt.

Like China, the Sun Belt basked in cheap and easy growth. Now the game gets harder. Sun Belt boom towns are too busy touting corporate headquarter poaching victories to care.

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