A flood of new jobs and educated adults aren’t streaming to highly populated areas on the West and East Coasts or Great Lakes region. At least not to the degree that they are in four growth corridors identified by Joel Kotkin: the Great Plains, the Third Coast (the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), the Intermountain West, and the Southeastern industrial belt.
Kotkin goes in detail on each region in a new report, “America’s Growth Corridors: The Key to National Growth,” for the Manhattan Institute. The four corridors are considerably less dense than marquee hubs like the Northeast, part of California, etc. But they’re also more business friendly, more affordable, and clearly lean in the conservative direction.
Kotkin summarized his findings in a column for The Wall Street Journal — the most-read article on WSJ.com as of Tuesday afternoon.
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.
Historically, these regions were little more than resource colonies or low-wage labor sites for richer, more technically advanced areas. By promoting policies that encourage enterprise and spark economic growth, they’re catching up.
With the help of Mark Schill at Praxis Strategy Group, Kotkin used data from EMSI, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other sources to explore changes in employment, wages, population, etc. Most of these corridor states — Texas, Georgia, Florida, et al. — are at the top of Chief Executive magazine’s ranking of states with the best business climates and Site Selection magazine’s study of the best places to locate new plants.
Per the report, here is the definition for the growth corridors:
1. The Great Plains region, made up of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas
2. The “Third Coast” stretch of counties whose shores abut the Gulf of Mexico and which range through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida
3. The “Intermountain West,” consisting of counties in the north of New Mexico and Arizona, parts of eastern California and western regions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, as well as the non-coastal eastern regions of Oregon and Washington and all of Idaho, Utah, and Nevada
4. The “Southeast Manufacturing Belt” of counties in eastern Arkansas, all of Tennessee, and large swaths of Kentucky, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and southwestern Virginia