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A Multivariate Analysis of Some Aspects of the Economic Geography of Florida Maurice H. Yeates Queens University This paper presents an attempt at analysing economic data that are spatially distributed, and aims at discerning some of the underlying geographic forces prevailing in a defined area. The area chosen for study is the State of Florida, famous for the rapidity of its population growth during the past few decades. Between 1950 and 1960 the population of Florida increased by 79 per cent to 4,951,560, compared to the overall increase in the United States of 18.5 per cent. Currently the population of Florida is about 5.5 million, making it the ninth most populous state in the nation. Economic growth has not, however, been as spectacular. Although Fuchs ( 1 ) presents data indicating that Florida has the second largest increase in value added from manufacturing in the United States between 1947-54, this increase was from a very small base. As evidence of this it is salutory to note that between 1899 and 1947 the number of employees in manufacturing in Florida little more than doubled, whereas the economy and total employment in the United States grew phenomenally during the same period. (2) Therefore, any statement of percentage increase presents an inflated impression. A more accurate impression is gained from data on personal income. Although the growth of Total Civilian Production Income in Florida from 1961 to 1962 (8.0 per cent) was above that of the nation as a whole (6.0 per cent), the increase in per capita income (3.8 per cent) was less than the national average (4.4 per cent). Per capita income in Florida was $320 below the national average in 1962, and $900 behind that of New York. Even though Florida ranks highest in per capita income in the southeast ($2053 in 1962) it ranks only 31st in the nation as a whole. Furthermore, the base of Florida's economy is biased in favor of the tertiary sector, 68.8 per cent of Total Civilian Production Income being derived from service activities in 1962. (3) Thus, the population growth of Florida is not a result of burgeoning job opportunities or differences in per capita income between Florida and the rest of the nation. The service sector, which provided income for the great proportion of Florida's employed population, is based upon the state's primary resources: climate, beaches, and scenery; and an extraneous but highly important factor, the propensity of the American people to consume leisure. (4) Presuming that the state can conserve its natural resources, and that the propensity of the American people to consume leisure increases , then Florida is in a position for continuous growth in its major employment sector, which is, incidentally, difficult to automate. It is reasonable to assume that this propensity to consume leisure will increase due to automation in other sectors of the economy which will result in a progressively shorter working week and increases in income. 12 The Southeastern Geographer The foregoing presentation of some of the gross similarities and differences between Florida and the nation indicates variation between units at the state level of aggregation. However, there is just as much variation in data illustrating the economic geography of Florida within the state of Florida as there is between Florida and the rest of the nation. For example, at the county level of aggregation, 6 of the 67 counties within Florida exceeded the national per capita income in 1962—$2366, and one (Hendry County) exceeded the per capita income for New York State (Fig. 1). Furthermore, Hendry County has nearly four times the per capita income of the poorest county in the state (Holmes), whereas the state with the highest per capita income in the nation (Nevada) has only 2.5 times the per capita income of the state with the lowest (Mississippi, $1285). As far as population growth is concerned the variation between counties is even more spectacular, ranging from a 370 per cent increase in Brevard County between 1950 and 1960 to a 32 per cent decrease in Union County during the same period. This study is concerned with analysing the spatial variation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-6929
Print ISSN
0038-366X
Pages
pp. 11-20
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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