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The Geography of Job Creation and Destruction in the U.S. Manufacturing Sector, 1967–1997

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Much geographical research focuses on the causes of geographical differences in net employment change. While net employment change is an important indicator of regional growth and decline, it masks the underlying process of creative destruction resulting in tremendous employment turnover rates. Labor economists and those who work in industrial organization emphasize the importance of theorizing the individual processes of job creation and destruction to uncover technological and institutional differences among industries and over the business cycle. This work demonstrates that over the course of a year, 10 percent of all jobs are destroyed and close to 10 percent of jobs are newly created. This article bridges the work of geographers on net employment change and the nongeographical work in industrial organization and provides the first comprehensive account of regional and metropolitan differences of job creation and destruction in U.S. manufacturing. Plant level data of the U.S. Census Bureau show that geographical differences in net employment change are primarily the result of differences in job creation rates and to a lesser extent in job destruction rates, that different types of plants drive the job creation process in different metropolitan areas, and that the snowbelt/sunbelt dichotomy collapses in the 1990s with selected midwestern urban areas among the fastest growing areas in the country.

Keywords: employment change; job creation; job destruction; metropolitan change; plant-level data

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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