Regional Patterns of Exurban Industrialization: Results of a Preliminary Investigation

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This article reports preliminary results of current research into the changing spatial pattern of manufacturing in the contiguous states. Complete results are not due for two years. Results reported here are general in nature but portray trends important to those involved in economic development, especially activities aimed at attracting manufacturing firms. Between 1965 and 1985 total employment in the contiguous 48 states rose from 47.2 million to 80.2 million, a 70% increase. Manufacturing employment rose from 17.5 million to 19.3 million, or just 10%. During this period employment in exurban counties rose by 86 percent, from 7.6 million to 14.1 million. Manufacturing employment rose from 3.4 million to 4.5 million, or 32%. While exurban areas accounted for only 20% of the total number of jobs created during this period, it accounted for 61% of the new manufacturing jobs. By comparison, urban counties lost manufacturing employment, suburban counties accounted for 21%, small metropolitan counties accounted for 18%, and rural counties accounted for just 27% of new manufacturing jobs (figures adjusted for the loss of nearly one-half million manufacturing jobs in urban counties). Manufacturing is moving farther into the countryside, away from central cities and their traditional suburbs, but not so far away that goods, workers, and services cannot be shipped easily within a day to nearby urban areas. Exurban industrialization will lead to greater population dispersal If population shifts occasioned by exurban industrialization create new demands for services, retail and service jobs may follow. Exurban industrialization may place new pressures on local governments not prepared to accommodate the special needs of manufacturing or new residents. In this article the author offers only insight into this phenomenon. Work must be done to ascertain its many dimensions, implications, and possible policy responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-333
Number of pages14
JournalEconomic Development Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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