These trends point to a U.S. economic future dominated by four growth corridors that are generally less dense, more affordable, and markedly more conservative and pro-business: the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Third Coast (spanning the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), and the Southeastern industrial belt.
Overall, these corridors account for 45% of the nation’s land mass and 30% of its population. Between 2001 and 2011, job growth in the Great Plains, the Intermountain West and the Third Coast was between 7% and 8%—nearly 10 times the job growth rate for the rest of the country. Only the Southeastern industrial belt tracked close to the national average…
Energy, manufacturing and agriculture are playing a major role in the corridor states’ revival. The resurgence of fossil fuel–based energy, notably shale oil and natural gas, is especially important. Over the past decade, Texas alone has added 180,000 mostly high-paying energy-related jobs, Oklahoma another 40,000, and the Intermountain West well over 30,000. Energy-rich California, despite the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate, has created a mere 20,000 such jobs. In New York, meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still delaying a decision on hydraulic fracturing…
Since 2000, the Intermountain West’s population has grown by 20%, the Third Coast’s by 14%, the long-depopulating Great Plains by over 14%, and the Southeast by 13%. Population in the rest of the U.S. has grown barely 7%. Last year, the largest net recipients of domestic migrants were Texas and Florida, which between them gained 150,000. The biggest losers? New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California.
As a result, the corridors are home to most of America’s fastest-growing big cities, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Denver. Critically for the economic and political future, the growth corridor seems particularly appealing to young families with children.
This is part of a larger demographic trend that has taken place in the last 50 years in the United States: larger population growth in the Sunbelt and West. This has been accompanied by the growth of major cities, particularly places like Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix, and the movement of jobs to these areas.
It would be interesting to view these struggles as part of a larger power struggle between regions. It is obvious to pick up on the political implications but we could also look at economic, social, cultural, and religious implications. These growing Sunbelt cities don’t quite have the global status several of the northern cities do. Is this a function of time or can they catch up? Where does Washington D.C. fit into this – still a compromise city between North and South? How different are everyday lives in these different parts of the country? How much do businesses who relocate to these areas like the regions beyond the bottom-line considerations?