After showing the promise of a sustainable economic resurgence, has the Midwest reverted to its previous downward spiral? We think the answer is a qualified no—the recent weakness in the region's economy is not as self-perpetuating as it has been in the past. However, the marked slowdown in the natural economy exposed the soft underbelly of the Midwest economy—its auto industry. In a sense, the national economy was growing too slowly to allow the Midwest to offset the negative effects of restructuring the auto industry.
After an export-driven boom in 1987 and 1988, the Midwest turned in a disappointing performance in 1989. It grew at a slower pace than the nation for the first time in three years-some of its industries experienced recession-like conditions.