Consequences of population change for retail/wholesale sector employment in the non-metropolitan great plains: 1950-1996

Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


A rural economic restructuring perspective and central place theory are used to assess the impact of population change on retail/wholesale sector employment for the 438 nonmetropolitan counties of the Great Plains region from 1950 to 1990. Findings indicate that county level population declined for every decade except the 1970 turnaround decade, and the greatest losses were in completely rural nonadjacent counties. The civilian labor force declined for all but the 1970 decade, when there was a substantial increase due to increased nonmetro manufacturing and the baby boom cohorts reaching labor force age. Retail/wholesale labor force increased in every decade except the 1980s. However, regression analysis found a positive and highly significant relationship between population change and retail/wholesale employment change. For this region, population decline is a major contributor to decline in the retail/wholesale employment sector at the county level. Preliminary data from the 1990–1996 period indicate a population and labor force rebound from the 1980s. However, as in the 1980s, gains are most likely concentrated in a small number of mainly urban nonadjacent counties.


This research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Agreement 43–3AEN-3–80152.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Rural Sociology