Between 1970 and 1990 the share of Minnesota commuters working outside their county of residence
increased from 18 to 29 percent. This study analyzes this trend by examining commuter flows among
labor markets in a 120-county study area encompassing Minnesota and counties in adjacent states.
A series of maps and statistical models relate commuter flows to changes in demographic and
employment conditions over the past two decades. Commuter flows have strengthened since 1970,
becoming more important in declining rural counties as well as growing suburban and exurban labor
markets. Longer work journeys in declining rural areas appear to reflect individual coping strategies, as
workers search farther afield for opportunities in a regional labor market undergoing a geographic
transformation. For most types of jobs, employment growth is dispersing outward from metropolitan
cores, while in non-metro areas jobs are consolidated into widely-spaced regional centers. These trends
have created a network of diffuse labor markets in which commuter flows link widely-scattered
communities of labor deficits to areas with labor surplus, in patterns too complex to be modeled solely in
terms of aggregate population and housing variables.
Wyly, Elvin K.; Adams, John S.; Loughlin, Melissa J..
Modeling Commuter Flows Among Local Labor Markets in Minnesota, 1970-1990.
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