DEFINITION of 'Rust Belt'
A slang term for a geographic region in the United States stretching from New York through the Midwest that was once involved in steel production and manufacturing. The Rust Belt became an industrial hub due to its proximity to the Great Lakes, canals and rivers, which allowed companies to gain access to raw materials and ship out finished products. This region is called the Rust Belt because the decline in industrial work has left many factories abandoned and uncared for, rusting due to their exposure to the elements. It has also been referred to as the manufacturing belt as well as the factory belt.
BREAKING DOWN 'Rust Belt'
Some of America's more prominent industries, such as steel production and automobile manufacturing, were located in the Rust Belt area. They have declined over the years due to the increased cost of domestic labor and the capital intensive nature of manufacturing. Blue collar jobs have moved overseas more and more, forcing local governments to rethink the type of manufacturing and businesses that can profitably operate in the area. The Rust Belt generally begins in central New York and runs west through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and northern Illinois and Indiana.