Even as the old Confederacy’s political banner fades, its long-term economic prospects shine bright. This derives from factors largely outside the control of Washington: demographic trends, economic growth patterns, state business climates, flows of foreign investment and, finally and most surprisingly, a shift of educated workers and immigrants to an archipelago of fast-growing urban centers.
Perhaps more importantly, these states are nurturing families, in contrast to the Great Lakes states, the Northeast and California. Texas, for example, has increased its under 10 population by over 17% over the past decade; all the former confederate states, outside of Katrina-ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana, gained between 5% and 10%. On the flip side, under 10 populations declined in Illinois, Michigan, New York and California. Houston, Austin, Dallas, Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh also saw their child populations rise by at least twice the 10% rate of the rest country over the past decade while New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago areas experienced declines.
For its part New Orleans, where I am working as a consultant , is challenging New York and Los Angeles in the film and video effects industry. Houston boasts the country’s largest medical center. Raleigh, Austin, Houston and San Antonio rank as the largest gainers of STEM jobs over the past decade.
Over time, numbers like these will have consequences politically, as well as culturally and economically. In the next half century, more Americans will be brought up Southern; the drawls may be softer, and social values hopefully less constricted, but the cultural imprint and regional loyalties are likely to persist. Rather than fade way, expect Southern influence instead to grow over time. It is more likely that the culture of the increasingly child-free northern tier and the slow-growth coasts will, to evoke the past, be the ones gone with the wind.