Dispersion of Industry

July 16, 1948

Report Outline
Postwar Trend Toward Industrial Dispersion
Extent of Alteration in Industrial Pattern
Factors Affecting Location of Industries
Outlook for Further Dispersion of Industry
Special Focus

Postwar Trend Toward Industrial Dispersion

Industry Expansion and Changing Locational Patterns

During the period of nearly three years since V-J Day there has been a marked acceleration in the long-term trend toward geographical decentralization of American industry. “Factory smokestacks,” one business weekly writes, “now dot landscapes that used to be barren of all but white cotton bolls or waving wheat. Now you can run along the Pacific or Gulf coasts and get the feel of teeming urban metropolises. In older days they were characteristic solely of the Lake Shore of the Atlantic seaboard.”

The increased tempo of the decentralization movement is primarily the result of industrial expansion since the war. American industry spent $16.2 billion for new plant and equipment in 1947 and is expected to spend more than $18 billion in 1948. Current outlays are three times the 1939 average and more than twice peak wartime spending. The placement of this tremendous new plant investment could not help but have an important effect on the locational pattern of industry.

The movement itself is a response to long-term economic factors such as changing markets and raw materials sources, technological developments, and overcrowding in established industrial areas. “Examination of underlying conditions will prove,” according to one authority, “that nothing unusual has happened; industry is responding to economic forces, which may have changed the character of some locations, but have not changed the requirements of industry.” Present dispersive activity continues a trend already well established before the war.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Manufacturing and Industrial Production