For most countries, industrialization and urbanization are concurrent events. Industrial development in Canada, Mexico, and the United States brought with it the geographic concentration of economic activity. In each country, industry initially concentrated in a relatively confined geographic area. While industry in North America has moved out of traditional manufacturing regions over the last several decades, economic activity is still highly unevenly distributed across space.

Over the past half century, the regional pattern of economic activity in the United States has altered considerably. Table 1 shows the regional distribution of manufacturing employment in the United States for the period 1850-1990. Industry in the United States was concentrated initially in a manufacturing belt that included New England, the mid Atlantic states, and the Great Lakes region. In 1870, this region accounted for 80.5% of U.S. manufacturing employment and 56.4% of the U.S. population. A century later, the region still had 57.9% of U.S. manufacturing employment and 49.8% of the population.

Recent economic growth in the United States has shifted the locus of economic activity to the south and west. Since 1950 employment growth relative to the nation as a whole has been strongly negative in northeastern and midwestern states, such as Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, and strongly positive in southern and western states, such as California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas (Blanchard and Katz, 1992). The shift in U.S. production from manufacturing to services has reinforced these movements and contributed to a lessening of regional specialization (Kim, 1995). online payday loan

Despite the ongoing delocalization of industry, economic activity in the United States remains highly geographically concentrated. In 1990, the 100 most economically-active U.S. counties accounted for 41.2% of U.S. manufacturing employment but only 1.5% of total U.S. land area.4 With the relocation of industry, traditional manufacturing centers, such as Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, have declined, but new manufacturing centers, such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Jose, have been created. Thus, while industry has become more evenly distributed across regions over time, within each region production remains highly concentrated in and around a few major cities.