[Review of the Book Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown: The Transformation of the Rust Belt]

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Colvin, Alexander
industry; Rust Belt; unemployment; plant closings; Human Resources Management; Labor Relations
article description
[Excerpt] As economic crisis once again grips the land, it is valuable to ponder the lessons of attempts to recover from past downturns. For example, the economic dislocations of the 1970s and 1980s transformed the industrial heartland of America into the “Rust Belt” and forced communities to grapple with how to recover from a lost standard of living revolving around good paying jobs in industries like steel production that were unlikely ever to return. In his interesting and highly readable book, Sean Safford examines the diverging economic trajectories of two similar rust belt communities, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio. Both had grown prosperous as centers of the steel industry through the mid-20th century and both fell on hard times with the contraction of that industry in the 1970s and 1980s. After the 1980s, however, Allentown recovered while Youngstown remained mired in depression. Safford sets out to explain the puzzle of why these two communities, seemingly so similar, ended up on such different trajectories.