What Is Regional Economic Analysis?

Mary McMahon

Regional economic analysis breaks down trends by regional units like counties, individual towns, or states. This provides detailed data that may account for specific local concerns. It can also offer a glimpse into local economies and the structures that contribute to both failures and successes. Comparing different areas can help planners and developers improve economies and quality of life for residents. Government agencies, private firms, and researchers are among the entities who may conduct regional economic analysis.

Regional economic analysis breaks down trends by location.
Regional economic analysis breaks down trends by location.

A number of factors can contribute to differences between regional economies. When they are lumped into larger units, these factors may not be apparent. Problems in one region could be concealed by success in another. Looking at regional economic analysis can provide people with important information about individual challenges and solutions. For example, a fishing community has different concerns than an industrial one.

Regional economic analysis may be used to make annual reports available to the public.
Regional economic analysis may be used to make annual reports available to the public.

Behaviors within local economies are also a topic of concern. Specific industries may play a large role in a region, by creating jobs, generating income from exports, and so forth. Individualized analysis can help economists identify key regional players and learn more about how they operate. This information could be important for policy making and recommendations in other areas. For example, a regional economic analysis could reveal that tax incentives create more businesses, in which case other areas might want to consider similar incentives to promote growth.

Comparing and contrasting can also be useful for policy making. If two regions have similar demographic profiles but one has a much more secure economy, economists might want to find out why. The regional economic analysis could show that one community has a higher export rate, for example, which brings in money from the outside rather than keeping funds circulating in the community. These comparison studies can help researchers determine which tools for economic growth and revitalization work, which do not, and why.

This process can involve the collection of data from a number of sources. These may include county agencies, which have information on tax revenues and business licenses. Individual firms can also report back, or may make annual reports available to members of the public. Surveys can be used to collect data from workers and other members of the community. Observation can help researchers pick up information about the cost of living and evidence of economic hardship in the form of metrics like applications for government assistance or visitors to a food bank.

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