If dawn follows the darkness, the Midwest may be recovering from its long night of economic decline.
So say a rash of news stories reporting on a sudden burst of economic activity and job growth in some of the most hard-hit regions of the Midwest. These stories chronicle a rebirth in jobs across the Midwest, a return of jobs from China and other outsourcing destinations, and a particular upsurge in manufacturing. Another report sees new venture capital going into Midwestern health care companies.
Some of this stems from the natural gas boom in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and may mark the beginning of a long-term upturn. Other good news come from Auto Alley, where the auto business, newly bailed out by the government, is showing signs of life.
But for the most part, it's too early to proclaim the Midwest's long winter to be over. Take these stories for what they are -- items of good news in a bleak landscape, as welcome as a balmy day in February. The natural gas boom may be real, but we've all been stung by quick blips in auto production in the past, and are all too aware of that industry's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The return of outsourced jobs is happening in some places, but it's still too sporadic, and the evidence too anecdotal, to proclaim a turnaround.