Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Rust Belt, also known as the Manufacturing Belt, is an area in the northeastern and north-central United States whose economy was formerly based largely on heavy industry, manufacturing, and associated industries. This area is roughly defined as comprising the northern sections of Indiana and Ohio; the northeastern corner of Illinois; the Lower Peninsula of Michigan; the Lake Michigan shoreline of Wisconsin; upstate New York; at least the western half of Pennsylvania; and the northern part of West Virginia, especially that state's Northern Panhandle. Sometimes the adjacent portion of the Canadian province of Ontario is included as well, giving the concept an international dimension.
With the expansion of worldwide free trade agreements in the 1960s, it became far cheaper to produce heavy industrial goods such as steel in third world countries and import them into the United States. Beginning with the recession of 1969-71, a dreary pattern emerged: In that downturn and in the ones that followed, manufacturing jobs disappeared, to be replaced by much lower-paying positions (mostly in the service industry) when the economy recovered. As a result, the economy of Rust Belt areas was decimated as one factory after another was driven out of business and closed down.
In recent years, the big city populations in the Rust Belt are decreasing. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and many more are some of the fastest-shrinking big cities in the US, despite attempts to revitalize their downtown areas. In the 2004 population estimate, it showed that the Rust Belt states were the weakest in growth, averaging less than 2% for new growth, compared to the large percentage of new growth in the Sun Belt. It seems as if Americans want warmer weather and more space to live in.
The areas are so called because of the unused, rusting machinery left over from the industrial production days, the rusting infrastructure (such as old highway overpasses), and because the salt used to de-ice roads during the area's heavy winters tends to rust automobiles quickly. The term "Rust Belt" is a neologism created by analogy to Sun Belt, Grain Belt and Bible Belt.
See also: The Foundry
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