Three Wests: Access to Markets Affects Performance

There are three distinct types of counties in the West—Metro, Connected, and Isolated—defined by their access to major markets and population centers.

  • For future economic development, access to major markets is an important indicator of likely economic and demographic performance and potential.
  • Metro counties largely are younger, growing faster, with higher earnings, less income volatility, and a more educated workforce.
  • Connected counties, those in rural settings but with airports connecting them to larger markets areas, tend to perform like Metro areas.
  • Isolated counties are likely to be older, growing slower, with a higher dependence on retirement income, agriculture, and more jobs in resource industries.