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Editors' Note

September 11, 2010

So when is the next economy going to emerge? Later rather than sooner, it seems, judging from the depressing economic indicators of late. Which only increases the need to understand where the economy will recover first. And later, too.

That is the point of this supplement, the second in a series of explorations of the economy-to-come presented jointly by The Atlantic and National Journal. It tries to understand the geography of a recovery, whenever it comes. Economic opportunity -- jobs, investments, growth -- will surely arrive in some places more quickly than in others, thereby shaping the nation's social and political destiny for decades to come.

The lead article takes up the question: Where is the next Sun Belt? Author Jesse A. Hamilton explores two competing -- and provocative -- visions of where America's economic future lies. Futurist Joel Kotkin predicts the rise of America's heartland, with growth centering on the Omahas and Dallases; urbanist Richard Florida foresees the cities along the East and West coasts morphing into urban mega-regions where people will love to live. Who's right? The political implications are vast. One would move the country in a reddish direction, the other toward the blues.

 

We also take a look at which places will probably thrive as the economy struggles to revive and which will lag behind. And which, as Derek Thompson learns in San Antonio, can be counted on for slow-but-steady growth. If this inspires you to move in pursuit of a job, Alina Tugend offers some practical advice on what to look for and what to avoid.

All the advice in the world won't make the economy prosperous -- or predictable. Just how unpredictable is clear from the maps on pp. 14-15, which show the ways that the Great Recession devastated the Sun Belt and spared the heartland, an outcome inverted from the downturn of 2001-03. Still, on the back page, Ronald Brownstein pores through the data and isolates the factor driving the geography of opportunity: education. So, can we predict with confidence where prosperity will arrive? No, but we can examine the geographical possibilities of how the nation's economic recovery will unfold.

James Bennet The Atlantic

Ron Fournier National Journal

The Next Economy is a joint project of The Atlantic and National Journal. Copyright 2010 by Atlantic Media Group Inc., 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037. All rights reserved. Reproduction and/or fax transmission of The Next Economy is prohibited without written permission of the publisher. For more information about this or any Atlantic Media Group projects, call 202-266-7260 or 800-424-2921.

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