“In the 1970’s being ‘metropolitan’ meant more than increased state and federal money, according to the supporters. ‘Metropolitan’ meant growth – increasing population and prosperity,” writes Chuck Eckenstahler.
After a successful lobbying effort by local political leaders, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph was one of nine new Metropolitan Areas created for the 1980 Census. Eckenstahler examines the population growth of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph since then to examine if the designation paid off.
“This data reveals population of the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph MAS did not grow to the same extent as other comparative MSA’s created in 1980 – being a population loss of 8.4% compared to a 35.2% growth in population over the past three decades.”
Eckenstahler then explores dynamics like “geographic isolationism” and “paralysis of political geography” as causes of the decline.