America's heartland is made up of 19 states, leads in advanced manufacturing, have tech growth catching up with the rest of the nation, and is home to several "micropolitan" cities bolstering economic growth.
That's all according to the key takeaways from the State of the Heartland: Factbook 2018 report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and the Walton Family Foundation. Report authors Mark Muro, Robert Maxim, Jacob Whiton, and Ross DeVol each weigh in on the three major trends running through the report; Muro tells Curbed, “I think the region and the interior is often a question mark for those on the coasts, which generate the narratives through the media,” he says. “After the last election, the meme machine went into hyperdrive, not just talking about flyover country, but using terms like American Carnage and manufacturing breakdown. We thought it was a valuable time to take a dispassionate look at the facts, at a time when there’s an awful lot of storylines flying around.”
In the heat of election season, conversations about the U.S. “heartland” often revolve around red and blue: How will voters from the region—itself a nebulous, non-homogeneous collection of states—react to economic and social shifts, and how will their votes impact the rest of the country? Instead, the report ignores questions of red versus blue, instead characterizing the heartland by digging into economics and threading together the trends and challenges that unite this 19-state region.