July 30, 1999

Outward Bound: The Decentralization of Population and Employment

Nancy McArdle

W99-5: During the 1990s, U.S. population and employment have grown most quickly at the lower density fringes of metropolitan areas and in certain non-metropolitan locations such as the Rocky Mountain West. Due largely to domestic in-migration, population growth rates in lower density counties are approaching those experienced during the 1970s' “rural renaissance.” These areas now contain a significant share of the nation’s jobs, including many types of jobs normally associated with higher density locations such as services, retail trade, and government. Nevertheless, not all low density areas have flourished. Many in the Great Plains, Appalachia, and the Mississippi Delta continue to experience net losses and an aging population. At the same time, many high density core areas have been buoyed by economic restructuring and foreign immigration. Though increasing at only modest rates, these locations are no longer suffering the substantial declines experienced during the 1970s. Annual data further reveal that population growth has strengthened in high density counties since 1995, especially in California…

Category: Working Papers

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