September 19, 2013
The Boom Towns and Ghost Towns of the New Economy

America’s economic map is ever changing. Great migrations—settlers westward; African Americans northward; urbanites outward to greener suburbs, then back again—have shaped the country’s history. Cities have heaved skyward; boom towns have come and gone.
Back in the spring of 2009, I wrote in these pages that the financial crisis would “permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape.” Some cities and regions “will eventually spring back stronger than before,” I predicted. “Others may never come back at all.”
It might have sounded apocalyptic, but tectonic shifts of this kind are not unprecedented. They are the geographic counterpart to what the economist Joseph Schumpeter dubbed “creative destruction”—the great gales of change that level some companies and industries, and give rise to others. As powerful as they might seem in the moment, it is only when we look back through the lens of history that the full extent of economic and geographic changes becomes clear.
Five years after the crash, with the national economy just beginning to return to something resembling normalcy, we can begin to trace the outlines of America’s emerging economic map—and take inventory of the places that are thriving, those that are declining, and those that are trying, in novel ways, to come back.
The American economy is enormous, and enormously complicated. It comprises scores of industries harboring hundreds of occupations, spread across more than 350 metro economies, large and small. A variety of measures can be used to divine the health and prospects of these different places—population growth, job growth, housing prices, and the unemployment rate are among the more common. Each of these measures has its uses, but some of them can conceal as much as they reveal. Population growth, for instance, tells you nothing about the skills and education of the people arriving; job growth says nothing about whether the new jobs are good or bad.
Read more. [Image: Kevin Van Aelst]

The Boom Towns and Ghost Towns of the New Economy

America’s economic map is ever changing. Great migrations—settlers westward; African Americans northward; urbanites outward to greener suburbs, then back again—have shaped the country’s history. Cities have heaved skyward; boom towns have come and gone.

Back in the spring of 2009, I wrote in these pages that the financial crisis would “permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape.” Some cities and regions “will eventually spring back stronger than before,” I predicted. “Others may never come back at all.”

It might have sounded apocalyptic, but tectonic shifts of this kind are not unprecedented. They are the geographic counterpart to what the economist Joseph Schumpeter dubbed “creative destruction”—the great gales of change that level some companies and industries, and give rise to others. As powerful as they might seem in the moment, it is only when we look back through the lens of history that the full extent of economic and geographic changes becomes clear.

Five years after the crash, with the national economy just beginning to return to something resembling normalcy, we can begin to trace the outlines of America’s emerging economic map—and take inventory of the places that are thriving, those that are declining, and those that are trying, in novel ways, to come back.

The American economy is enormous, and enormously complicated. It comprises scores of industries harboring hundreds of occupations, spread across more than 350 metro economies, large and small. A variety of measures can be used to divine the health and prospects of these different places—population growth, job growth, housing prices, and the unemployment rate are among the more common. Each of these measures has its uses, but some of them can conceal as much as they reveal. Population growth, for instance, tells you nothing about the skills and education of the people arriving; job growth says nothing about whether the new jobs are good or bad.

Read more. [Image: Kevin Van Aelst]

  1. thebestthingsincetherenaissance reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. pod313 reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. twobyforesight reblogged this from theatlantic
  4. unwordinglanguage reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. sosungalittleclodofclay reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. eyesopendreamin reblogged this from peaceshine3
  7. randycwhite reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. lesassafraas reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. misterdelfuego reblogged this from theatlantic
  10. gafasdelsol reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. peaceshine3 reblogged this from theatlantic