How the economy and jobs are divided in the US

March 23, 2020

The American job market is totally different from what it was twenty years ago, and it will continue to change by leaps and bounds. Thanks to the Great Recession and the wave of technology that has swept through the country in recent years many jobs are likely to disappear as we knew them, but many others will also be created. And this will affect the entire population.

Nor will automation affect everyone in the same way. Workers with a high school degree are four times more likely to be replaced by automation than someone with a bachelor’s degree. Indicating that access to education affects the type of jobs for each segment. But in perspective, it can be said that the future of work is not only about how many jobs are created and how many are lost. The very concept of work is also changing along with the economy, and therefore different skills are needed to continue to exist. It's a great opportunity to upgrade jobs.

In research done by McKinsey, they saw that to see how jobs and the economy are separated within the country, it was necessary to separate counties and cities by population and growth. The correlation found between the different archetypes they created is quite significant when it comes to segregating the domestic economy.

Within the divisions, we have the following archetypes:

-Urban core: These are the megacities of the US, where approximately 30% of the population is concentrated. The economy of these cities is mostly taken up by technological industries, media, real estate. They have a greater source of income and more job openings. For example, New York, NY. or San Francisco, CA.

- Urban periphery: Formed by 271 counties. It is home to 16% of the US population. They are the largest migrant sites in the country, attracting people from all over the country. Most of its economy consists of healthcare, retail and local services. For example, Arlington, VA. or Riverside, CA. 

- Niche cities: It consists of 56 smaller cities, which account for 6% of the population. Famous for having unique features. They can be university cities, or on the contrary, be famous for being destinations for retirees. Within these archetypes, they have the fastest-growing standard. The low cost of living and high quality of life is what attracts more people. For example, Provo, UT. or Reno, NV.

- Mixed middle: Almost 25% of the population is located in these 180 cities. Cities with independent economies that have no ups and downs. Their economy is also slow in creating jobs. Most of these remain so, although some are declining. For example, Little Rock, AR. or Greensboro, NC.

- Low-growth and rural areas: Consisting of 52 cities and over 2,000 rural counties, it also makes up 25% of the US population. They are often industrial cities that now have struggling economies. In this segment, the population is usually older, and unemployment is high. Education is also lower.  For example, Flint, MI. or Danville, VA. 

After the Great Recession, it can be said that it has been a story of two different US The 25 largest cities in the country - the urban chorus - have accounted for 2/3 of job creation in the US. While the smaller cities - the two lowest archetypes - have had virtually no significant growth in the last decade. This has triggered many families to move to these larger cities in search of a better future. In the same analysis made by McKinsey, they claim that in 1997 49% of jobs were middle class; in 2017 it is only 41%. More Americans are climbing into the middle class, making it almost non-existent. 

Bughin, J. Q. Jacques, Manyika, J. M. James, & Woetzel, J. W. Jonathan. (2019, July). The future of work in America. Retrieved January 13, 2020, from

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