From Ohio History Central
During the 1960s and 1970s, Midwestern and Eastern states, such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, became known as the Rustbelt. During this twenty year period, these states experienced economic and population declines as many businesses moved out of the region to either foreign countries or to the Sunbelt, Southern states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, and California, among other states.
There were several reasons for this decline. Many people preferred the warmer climate and sunshine of the South-the Sunbelt-than the colder temperatures and snow of the North-the Rustbelt. Mass migration occurred as people moved to more desirable locations. Many businesses moved to new locations partly because workers were moving but also because manufacturing costs skyrocketed during this period. Many businesses sought to move their operations overseas, where they could save dramatically on the wages that they paid to workers. In 1980, the typical Ford Motor Company or General Motors worker in Ohio earned twenty dollars per hour, while in Mexico, workers averaged sixteen dollars per week. Some businesses also moved because of the strength of unions in Ohio. Most manufacturing workers in the state belonged to unions, while workers in the Sunbelt joined such organizations less commonly.
The businesses that moved from Ohio were typically manufacturing businesses. These businesses had made Ohio an economic giant in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, but by the 1960s and 1970s, these businesses were suffering. The end result was high unemployment and outmigration for workers in industrial cities like Youngstown, Cleveland, Toledo, and Akron, Ohio. In recent years, Ohio and neighboring states have tried to break with its manufacturing past to become a more service-oriented economy. This transition has improved these states' economic situation. Government funding for the revitalization of cities has also spurred economic growth.