When looking at urban economics in the context of the national economy it is sometimes hard to gauge economic growth versus simply population growth. Generally, the two outcomes seem to have a positive relationship. In a study using data from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis looking at over 350 U.S. metros from 2001 to 2011 it was found that there is very minimal no connection between the two. Only about 19% of the areas tested experienced both productivity growth, in terms of GDP per capita, and population growth. In comparing the two maps below you can see the differences between population and economic growth across the country. The highest recorded population growth is in Palm Coast, FL with a 6.08% increase. While Corvallis, OR has the highest GDP growth rate at 8.99%.
These findings are consistent with the findings of economist Paul Gottlieb who found in his paper, “Growth Without Growth: An Alternative Economic Development Goal For Metropolitan Areas” and his theory of dividing areas into “population magnets” and “wealth builders”. Generally when an industry is thriving that means more jobs and thus more people wanting to live in the area. Often times single industries dictate the prosperity of a city such as Detroit and the car industry. However, Gottlieb shows the difference between areas that are population magnets but do not have thriving industries and the wealth builders that may have thriving industries but not the great population change. It is very important to look at these two factors in terms of unemployment in certain areas so that we can better understand the idea of spatial mismatch and how to best build our economy to create jobs in the areas that they are needed.