The Sunbelt

The Sun Belt is the region in the United States that stretches across the southern and southwestern portions of the country from Florida to California. Major U.S. cities within the Sun Belt include Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, and Phoenix.

Throughout U.S. history, especially after World War II, the Sun Belt saw abundant population growth in these cities as well as many others and has been an important area socially, politically and economically.


The term "Sun Belt" is said to have been coined in 1969 by writer and political analyst Kevin Phillips to describe the area of the U.S. that encompassed the region from Florida to California and included industries like oil, military, and aerospace, and also many retirement communities.

Many military manufacturing jobs were moving from the northeast U.S. to the south and the west during World War II. Growth in these areas continued after the war.

Part of the region's growth was a direct result of increasing agriculture and the earlier green revolution, which introduced new farming technologies. In addition, agriculture and related jobs in the region attracted immigrants from neighboring Mexico and other countries looking for jobs in the U.S.

The Sun Belt's population also grew via migration from other parts of the U.S. in the 1970s. This growth resulted from the rise of affordable, effective air conditioning and the milder winters in the Sun Belt. Many retirees moved from northern states to the south, especially Florida and Arizona.

New types of businesses and industries like aerospace, defense and military, and oil moved from the north to the Sun Belt as the region was cheaper and there were fewer labor unions. This added to the Sun Belt's growth and importance economically. Oil, for example, helped Texas develop economically.

Despite this growth, however, the Sun Belt did experience its share of problems in the 1980s and 1990s. For example, the region's economic prosperity has been uneven and includes metropolitan regions with the lowest per capita incomes in the U.S. The rapid growth has caused various environmental problems, such as air pollution.


As it has been since the 1960s, the Sun Belt remains one of the most important growth regions in the U.S.

Source: The Sunbelt
By Amanda Briney © ThoughtCo.com

Back to top