The Resurrection of the Rust Belt

DEINDUSTRIALIZATION? ECONOMIC VIOLENCE? The heartland says humbug. When the going got tough, its industries shaped up. Now they’re more competitive than ever.

FORTUNE Magazine, August 15, 1988, By Myron Magnet, Reporter Associate Mark Hamilton Mosher

YOU EXPECT HUMBUG in a campaign. But have you ever heard humbug like what they’ve been saying about America’s industrial heartland? As some candidates tell it, the center of the Rust Belt — from the industrial Midwest eastward to the steel valleys of Pennsylvania — is a hopeless disaster area. “Deindustrialization” has turned it into an eerie, almost post-nuclear wasteland. “Economic violence,” like some malign enchantment, has forever frozen unemployed workers in despair and drink.

The reality is quite different. After global economic changes of epochal significance steamrolled the region earlier in the Eighties, the heartland has begun to rebound strongly.

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