Last week local media was abuzz with news about a Brookings Institute study that said the intermountain West needed to increase their exports to aid economic recovery. Another expert says that’s just one part of the puzzle.
Mark Muro with Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program says the Mountain West’s economic troubles are a “serious malfunction of the West’s traditional migration and real estate driven growth machine.”
For decades the region has depended on super-fast migration-related growth, massive real estate and construction industries, and tourism to produce large numbers of middling-quality jobs in a hurry. Now, with domestic migration down, demand slow, and new construction way off, it’s becoming clear the Mountain metros are this time going to need to generate an organic recovery the old-fashioned way: through the creation and exportation of true value.
Muro argues that, in addition to exports, the next economy will be lower carbon and innovation-driven, which means strong higher-education and skilled workers. The West is in prime position to take advantage of those needs.