Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Features

Mapping the Evolution of the West

• May 04, 2012 • 4:44 PM

A graphic look at the Western United States’ half-century of rising fortunes.

The U.S. West Coast: what’s not to love? It smells like citrus (at least near our office) and everybody wears sandals — even our CEOs. In the current issue of Pacific Standard, we took aim at the West—the people and their paychecks—to quantify a few ways in which it defined the latter half of the “American Century”.

Click the graphic below for a breakdown of the ways the West won the last 50 years. For example: In population, growth in California, Washington, and Oregon has been more explosive than in major East Coast cities in recent decades; in terms of aggregate compensation of employees, manufacturing workers on the West Coast took in nearly 20 percent of all US compensation for that industry, which overall paid out more to employees in every other industry all the way until our most recent recession; not to mention all the silicon out here, from California’s Valley to Washington’s Puget Sound.

Mapping the Evolution of the West

CLICK IMAGE FOR PDF
(Designed by Column Five)

From the cutting room floor, some other ways the West Coast surprised us:

• Working for a living is out of vogue. In 1960, people in California, Washington, and Oregon, and nationwide, received most of their income from their jobs. By 2010, government benefits (retirement and unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc.) and investment income (dividends, interest, and rent) had dramatically increased the contributions to western wallets. In 1960, government benefits were 6 percent of total personal income for Washington, Oregon, and California. Investment income was 14 percent of personal income (paychecks were 80 percent of income). By 2010, government benefits had risen to 18 percent, investments 17 percent, and the old-fashioned paycheck was limping along at 64 percent. These numbers track a similar change nationwide.

• In the last 20 years, California and, more surprisingly, the State of Washington passed New York as home to the most publishing houses — when you look at the total compensation of employees.

• In 1956, the bulk of foreign goods were exchanged in the U.S. through the ports of New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, Hampton Roads (Va.), and Philadelphia (according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers Waterborne Commerce of the U.S.). But in 2010 the Los Angeles/Long Beach area shipped more than double the value of its nearest competitor — New York — to and from other countries.

Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald is an associate editor at Pacific Standard. He has previously worked at The New Republic and Oxford American Magazine.

More From Michael Fitzgerald

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

What Kind of Beat Makes You Want to Groove?

The science behind the rhythms that get you on the dance floor.

Pollution’s Racial Divides

When it comes to the injustice of air pollution, the divide between blacks and whites is greater than the gap between the rich and the poor.

Hunger and Low Blood Sugar Can Spur Domestic Quarrels

In an experiment, scientists found a correlation between low blood glucose and higher levels of spousal frustration.

Your Brain Starts Faltering After You Reach Age … 24

Sorry to break it to you, TSwift. At least in terms of cognitive functioning while playing StarCraft 2, you're finished.

Cavemen Were Awesome Parents

Toy hand axes, rock bashing, and special burials indicate that Neanderthals were cooler parents than previously thought, according to a new theory.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014