Looking for Diamonds in the Rust: Midwest Cities and Job Growth
About ten years ago, economic growth in the Midwest was robust enough for the region to shake off its old moniker, the “Rust Belt.” Personal income growth in each of the states in the Federal Reserve’s Seventh District matched or exceeded the national average for most of the 1990s. Employment growth was slower than in the rest of the country, but in large part because workers were hard to come by. The District’s unemployment rate was below the national average throughout most of the 1990s. Then the region was hit hard by the 2001 recession, and it has yet to fully recover. Its unemployment rate is back above the national average, and the District overall has lost 500,000 jobs from its peak in 2000. Many analysts attribute the region’s struggles to its concentration in manufacturing activity, and once again call it the Rust Belt. The Chicago Fed hosted a series of conferences to discuss the future of manufacturing and its impact on the Midwest.