As urban economies continue their upward trajectory, residents of counties once considered rural are commuting to cities. This has had both negative and positive effects on the communities in question.
For much of the past century, Hamilton Lombard writes, sprawl drove metropolitan growth. Now it's different. "[...] A major reason for this geographic growth today is that as the urban cores of metropolitan areas have grown larger, they have attracted a rising number of commuters from nearby rural counties, in many cases causing the rural counties to become part of their metropolitan area."
Much has been made of metropolitan corridors comprising urban centers as well as their suburbs and exurbs, which often blend together to form a vast, sprawled-out regional population center. When rural counties join these metro areas, they're often experiencing in-county job losses as many residents stay put and endure longer commutes.
This isn't always a uniformly bad thing. "The shift away from an economy centered on agriculture and manufacturing has been difficult for many communities, but it also has had its benefits. Farming is an unreliable business, dependent on weather and volatile commodity prices. Factories have not always provided stable jobs either."
Highlighting the continued importance of long-distance transportation infrastructure, formerly rural areas can benefit from connections to a wider metropolis. "Though becoming part of a metropolitan area has not prevented job losses in most of these counties, being connected with a larger, more diversified metropolitan economy has typically meant more economic stability than in the past."
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