The US economy is a myth

Chicago skylineA provocative headline, no? I wish I could say it was my own invention, but I can’t, because the Washington Post got there first:

So contend Bruce Katz, Mark Muro and Jennifer Bradley in the latest issue of the journal “Democracy.” The United States is not a single unified economy, they say, nor even a breakdown of 50 state economies. Instead, the country’s 100 largest metropolitan regions are the real drivers of economic activity, generating two-thirds of the nation’s jobs and three-quarters of its output. The sooner we reorient federal economic policies to support this “MetroNation,” the quicker we can fix the mess we’re in.

I’ll freely admit I don’t know enough about economics to tell whether Katz Muro and Bradley are actually right about that, but it makes a certain amount of sense… mapping economic activity like wi-fi signals, at their strongest near to the biggest routers. Maybe withdrawing economic focus from rural areas would make sense… but I can’t see it being a popular idea with people who live there. [via Bruce Sterling; image by doug.siefken]

2 thoughts on “The US economy is a myth”

  1. I live in one of the most rural areas of the USA, and this is hardly a new idea to me. With the population of the US now 80%+ urban, and less than 20% rural, it’s no surprise that the engines of the economy are in the cities. Most people who live in rural areas are well aware that they could move to an urban area and “more fully participate” in the urban lifestyle and economy, but choose to continue to live in rural areas.

    For the most part, rural areas already do not _have_ an economic focus, except in politician’s speeches – there simply aren’t enough people there to attract much spending, when spending is allocated on a per-capita basis, as is typically done by state governments. Most rural areas that I’m familiar with just want some help to build good roads, some minimum level of government services, and a little help now and then for economic development. Broadband access is one area where a little help would be nice, since there is no economic incentive for communications companies to build the infrastructure out, and access to the Internet helps grow the rural economy, by helping the (necessarily) small businesses reach a greater world to sell their goods.

  2. Of course the rural areas are systematically overrepresented politically. Hence the glory of farm subsidies, and so on.

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