Brookings has a report up, "A Tale of two Rust Belts: Diverging economic paths shaping community politics." John Austin, the author summarizes and laments the loss of industrial jobs in the Midwest over the last several decades. But he goes on to argue that not everyplace has fallen into desuetude, not all rust belts cities are the same....some aren't rust belts. His focus is on Michigan. He further argues that places that have moved on are also places that voted Democratic in the 2016 presidential race. He cites the following:
...Apart from Wayne county, home of Detroit’s Democratic base and its African American population stronghold—the big blue votes came from the places that are growing and arguably are succeeding in a changed economy—with more optimistic residents. As Table 1 shows, these metros include:
- Washtenaw county, home to the world-class University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, as well as a growing highly-educated population that includes nearly all the state’s venture investors and innovation community;
- Ingham county, home to the state capitol and Michigan State University, Michigan’s other top-tier research university;
- Kalamazoo county: the Kalamazoo Promise, which pays college tuition for all school graduates, has helped spark a downtown revival, aiding economic development efforts that have worked to replace the loss of big anchors like Pfizer Corporation and has brought middle-class families back to the urban core; and
- Once solidly Republican Oakland County, which surprisingly also went blue. Oakland is home to a well-heeled professional class, a growing middle-class African-American and professional immigrant community, high education levels, and a very diverse economic base.
Jean Raber: What's your view on this?