Boom And Gloom

How is the U.S. economy doing? That depends on where you live

Want a job? Try once down-and-out places like Houston, Salt Lake City and Gary, where newspapers are thick with help-wanted ads. But shun former go-go hot spots such as Boston, Phoenix and Atlanta, where 1980s-style booms in everything from computers to construction have suddenly gone bust.

Welcome to the upside-down '90s. Not since collapsing oil prices sent Texas and the rest of the Southwest into a slump nearly a decade ago has the U.S. witnessed such a stunning reversal of regional fortunes. The new winners include Midwestern farmers and Rustbelt manufacturers whose prosaic products, from corn to machine tools, are in...

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