Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 5:1 (February 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Great Plains are sometimes characterized as an economically lagging region. To shed some light on the region’s prospects, the locational and structural changes in employment patterns in the northern and central Great Plains were examined for the 1980 to 1990 period. County-level data were drawn from CD-ROM census publications and matched with locational references using Atlas *GIS . Shift-share computations were undertaken for the region as a whole and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. Employment declined sharply in agriculture and construction, but increased in the service sectors. Compared with the nation as a whole, the region competed poorly in many sectors, though it performed superbly in manufacturing and came close to holding its own in the business service and public administration sectors. Prospects appear bright for the metropolitan centers on the region s periphery, but the bulk of the territory will likely see only localized points of growth.