Industry Sectors That Define The Nation’s Largest Metro Areas

Published on Oct 14, 2011

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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Central Place Theory provides a description of how metro areas, cities, and towns are linked to form the national economy. According to this theory, larger metro areas exhibit market reach (dominance) over smaller cities and towns, and through this dominance a “hierarchy of places” results. This interlinking of places provides the basis for the economic cohesion that defines a functional economy, and provides important context for the community-level modeler.

This concept also does a good job in explaining why some cities develop as they do and why they tend to be ever-growing centers for ideas, commerce, development, and innovation.

Furthermore, it is fascinating to think about the large number of very big and economically diverse cities that have grown in the United States. These cities, which are relatively young in the scheme of things, have been shaped by hundreds of years of demographic, religious, political, geographic, and industrial development.

Since we are a data company with a specific knack for the industry side of things, here is a quick look at how cities are often shaped and characterized by the industries that compose them. We have selected the 30 most populous metro areas and pulled some key details on large, highly concentrated industries to see how the reputations of those cities are often shaped by key, often nationally dominant industries.

Click below to view each graphic.

Here for Western States

Here for Midwestern States

Here for East Coast States

The Data

The main metrics we used were total employment, projected (trend based) growth, and location quotient (or concentration). Location quotient (LQ) is basically a way of quantifying how concentrated a particular industry is in a region as compared to the nation. It can reveal what makes a particular region “unique” in comparison to the national average. Data comes from EMSI’s 2011.2 dataset.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to find out which industries are most highly concentrated in your city, please contact us.