Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kotkin on Blue Man Decline

We're always interested in the topic of how and where people choose to live in America and the outlook for cities, suburbs, ex-urban areas, and rural locales. Joel Kotkin is a clear-eyed observer of trends in this area. He sees things as they are-- not necessarily as he'd like them to be.
Yesterday he posted an interesting article at The American-- The Blue State Meltdown and the collapse of the Chicago Model. It takes more than a minute to read but is well worth it if you are interested in the subject.


...while state and local budget crises have extended to some red states, the most severe fiscal and economic basket cases largely are concentrated in places such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, and, perhaps most vividly of all, California. The last three have among the highest unemployment rates in the country; all the aforementioned are deeply in debt and have been forced to impose employee cutbacks and higher taxes almost certain to blunt a strong recovery.
The East Coast–dominated media, of course, wants to claim that we have reached “the twilight” of Sunbelt growth. This observation seems a bit premature. Instead, traditional red-state strongholds such as the Dakotas, Idaho, Texas, Utah, and North Carolina, dominated the
list of fastest-growing regions recently compiled for Forbes by my colleagues at
When the recovery comes, job growth also is most likely to resurge first in the red states, while the blue states continue to lag behind. For reasons as diverse as regulatory policy, aging infrastructure, and high levels of taxation, blue states continue to be more susceptible to recessions than their red counterparts.

These demographic and economic trends will have a long-term political impact. The net in-migration states—almost all of them red—will gain new representatives in Congress after the next census while New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and perhaps even California could see their delegations shrink.
In fact, amidst the Blue Man’s current political ascendency, the devolutionary process is likely to continue. Its roots are very deep, and will prove more difficult to reverse than media and policy claques suggest. In historic terms, blue states’ relative decline represents one of the greatest shifts of political and economic power since the Civil War.
Check out this recent piece from Kotkin as well. Right after the last election he posted Sundown for California, a cold-eyed look at the pathologies that are dragging under the state where we lived from 1988-2005.