Spatial Patterns of Migration and Income Change in the Mountain West: The Dominance of Service-Based, Amenity-Rich Counties



One of the most recognizable and important changes occurring in the West is rapid population growth. This article intends to address questions associated with whether patterns of population growth and income migration are associated with “new” and “old” West economies. Rural restructuring in the U.S. has created a group of counties with service-based economies. In the Mountain West, a number of counties with service-based economies are located in areas with high levels of environmental or natural amenities, creating what has been termed the “New West.” Migration to the rural parts of the Mountain West, and the income transfers associated with migration, are increasingly concentrated within these New West counties. Rapid population growth, the changing characteristics of in-migrants, and their spatial concentration in New West counties provide a basis for conflicts over what the rural West is becoming.