The Sunbelt is an innately geographical idea but one without a clear geographical definition. The term connotes a region (or regions) of the United States characterized by rapid post–World War II economic maturation and growth. In economic terms, two trends stand out. The first of these is the relocation of U.S. manufacturing employment from the Great Lakes region (“Rust Belt” or “Snowbelt”) to new industrial clusters in the warmer climates of the southeastern and southwestern United States. This shift was fueled in part by the comparative advantages of lower labor costs and proximity to raw materials (especially oil), as well as by the advent of air conditioning, which made tolerable the extreme heat and humidity that characterized much of the southern tier of the United ...

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