Dynamics of US regions (2): 
Sun Belt, Mexamerica and the West

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Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : America : North power, South integration
Corpus Corpus 1
Dynamics of US regions (2):
Sun Belt, Mexamerica and the West





> timelines and maps, p. XI-XII

The Megalopolis is considered as the spinal column of the US economy. However, new dynamic areas have emerged since World War II and become new assets for the country. Which are they and where are they located?

1 The Sun Belt

A An economic shift* from the Northeast

 The area from Florida to California is called the Sun Belt. Mild winters and extended summers distinguish this area.

 The growth of the Sun Belt started with World War II and the Cold War because many military manufacturing jobs moved from the Northeast to the South.

 In the 1970s, the Sun Belt became more economically important than the Northeast because of the increase of agriculture, heavy manufacturing* (Boeing), tourism (Southern California, Nevada, Florida), and above all high technology (Apple). Significant growth also occurred in Texas and Louisiana, based upon oil production.

B A demographic growth

 The population grew after World War II with the arrival of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants. In the 1970s, high-skilled workers moved to the Sun Belt to get jobs and retirees to escape cold winters.

 Today, economic growth in the Sun Belt has slowed, but its large cities (Los Angeles, Phoenix) still remain some of the fastest growing in the USA, mostly thanks to their birth rate, which is 10% higher than the country’s average.

2 Mexamerica

A A border land

 Mexamerica is now the most important cross-border area of the continent and of the world as 250 million people pass through this border each year. It includes southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and southern Texas.

 Tied bonds between people, economy and culture through the border characterize this region. A large population of Mexican or Latin American immigrants lives in the USA. In 2012, there were 53 million Hispanic, 49% of them living in California or Texas.

B A new economic system

 Some companies choose to locate their plants through the border. They are called “twin plants”. Administration, marketing and research centres are located in American cities (such as Otay Mesa close to San Diego) and manufacturing plants in Tijuana, Mexico.

 The energy industry grows along the Third Coast, which stretches from Tampico (Mexico) to Port Arthur (Texas).

3 The inland West

A The last frontier

 As many countries on the American continent, the USA still has some wild spaces to conquer. The inland West is the last important undeveloped land. It extends from the foothills of the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, including Alaska, the northernmost state.

 In this area, the population was traditionally sparse*. But, from 2003 to 2013, the Inland West enjoyed the most rapid population growth at 21%. The combination of quality of life factors, easy access to outdoor activities and low housing prices may explain this population increase.

B Strong economic development

 Over the past decade, employment expanded nearly 8%. Idaho, Colorado and Utah experienced a rise in employment due to the energy boom (shale oil*) and an expanding technology sector.

 For instance, Salt Lake City, capital town of Utah, enjoyed a rapid expansion of technology-driven manufacturing, most notably a huge Intel-Micron plant.

  • a shift = un déplacement, un changement
  • sparse = rare, clairsemé
  • heavy manufacturing = industrie lourde
  • shale oil = gaz de schiste