Red states are growing like tumble weeds

What region of the country is going to grow in influence and power?

Hint: It’s not in the states that dominated much of the attention in last year’s election.

Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University and a City Journal contributing editor, has authored a report published by the Manhattan Institute. It identifies four growth corridors in the United States. They are the Great Plains states, the “third coast” along the Gulf region, the Southeast manufacturing belt and the Intermountain West.

In other words, red states with business-friendly laws and policies. These areas don’t share a lot in common except low costs, strong business climates and population growth — mainly the kind that emphasizes families and children.

In fact, while the rest of the nation grew 7 percent since the turn of the century, the Intermountain West grew 20 percent, the “third coast” 14 percent, great plains more than 14 percent and the Southeast 13 percent. (Read the report by clicking here.)

In a related op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kotkin noted that, “Raleigh, Austin, Denver and Salt Lake City have all become high-tech hubs.”

Of the Intermountain region, his report says, “Perhaps none of our corridors has better prospects than the Intermountain West region. It has the advantages of a well-educated and growing population, as well as enormous natural resources. …

“Over the past ten years, the Intermountain West has had the highest growth in jobs of any area—some 14.7 percent, more than three times the national average. … It has consistently showed the greatest growth of any region in terms of high-tech jobs.”

Kotkin sees the region’s growth prospects as remaining strong for several decades.

His conclusions are hardly startling for anyone who has watched demographic shifts and economic indicators. Utah and its metropolitan areas have been cited by a number of publications as good places to do business. What all of this means in terms of political changes and future influence is less clear.

As the report notes, “To be sure, New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Chicago will remain the country’s leading metropolitan agglomerations for the foreseeable future. But an important urban story of the coming decades will be the emergence of interior metropolitan areas …”

That story will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

Categories: Uncategorized

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.


  1. Milt

    I am not sure that being a ‘red state’ is relevant. It certainly wasn’t brought out in any way in article. Maybe just pandering to those who are likely of a heavy political bent?

    As for influence, until the money, and I mean big NYC financial industry type money, is ‘resting’ in assets and funds along the Wasatch Front, we won’t get to even 10% of the influence of say a Wall Street hedge fund manager. Not in this plutocratic crony capitalistic nation.

    • Milt (and others who have commented),
      Thanks for your comments and insights. The red state link comes directly from the Wall Street Journal piece Joel Kotkin wrote as a companion to this study. I linked to it in the blog. The headline in the Journal was, “America’s Red State Growth Corridors.” Also in that piece, he says, “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.” Hence my comments on families. We can argue about whether cheap manufacturing jobs are good for families, Mark, but I wasn’t trying specifically to make that point. I was reflecting a general statement by the study’s author.

  2. LDS Liberal

    …of course — (communist) Red states (i.e, China) are growing like bamboo [FYI, also the fastest growing plant in the world.]

    tumble weeds vs. bamboo.
    Where’s the REAL growth happening?

  3. fMark Austin

    Not so fast there Jay… you are linking some stuff here that really doesn’t match up to your analysis. For example, North Carolina and VIrginia are hardly Red states….. they are more a lavender. Also, if you read the whole report, it sites that the South East is becoming a manufacturing mecca not because of family values – but that the cost of production in these areas is now cheaper than in China.

    Now, I don’t want to rain on this, because it is all good news. If shows that oil exploration is in large responsible for a lot of the growth – contrary to the normal narrative – and that high tech is finally starting to bring some good paying jobs to the intermountain area. But again, it is due to cheap labor and capital asset cost – not some derived tax policy. There are just too many states with pockets doing well to make that leap.

    Even Illinois had large job growth in areas – it just was that these jobs are being added to already high numbers.

    I am happy for Utah… but lets not read more into this that is there. It is great news. Families just isn’t part of the driver…. read the data.

  4. Carl

    Yes, business loves red states where people are willing to work for less income.
    However, if our legislature does not start adequately fund education, this state will lose the competitive edge with fewer well educated residents.

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