New England - Cities
By a slight majority, most of the residents of the New England are urbanites. However, the region contains few substantial urban areas. The two largest cities of northern New England are Burlington, Vermont, and Lewiston, Maine, both of which have about 40,000 residents.
The small size of the major regional centers is a good indication of what may be the greatest single reason for the relatively low per capita income levels found in the region. Most higher-income occupations in the United States are urban based, and this area lacks urban occupations. Although they are less than half of the total, a high percentage of the work force is engaged in primary occupations, which are traditionally among the lowest paying in America. The absence of a large local market and poor access to major urban areas means that primary industries have not served as the foundation for the development of a more broadly based manufacturing economy as they have elsewhere in the United States.
Nevertheless, there seems to be reason to anticipate that the economy will grow in northern New England. The 1980 US census indicated that Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont were the only states outside the South and West to grow at a rate above the national average. In the 1980s, New Hampshire continued to grow at a rate well above the national average, and Vermont and Maine were only somewhat below the average.
There seem to be several reasons for this shift in regional population fortunes. One is the gradual northward growth of Megalopolis. As the cities of the urban region expand, as new peripheral areas urbanize and become a part of urban America, and as people search farther outward to find residences away from the large cities, the Megalopolitan periphery has been pushed steadily northward in New England.
Northern New England is also attracting a number of new manufacturing facilities, which tend to be light industry with medium-sized work forces. In part, they are locating in the region because the employers and their workers find the small-town and rural environments to be good places to live. Also, the construction of several interstate highways into the region during the 1960s has provided greater accessibility.
Tourism has been northern New England's boom industry since the mid-20th century. Fishing, skiing, canoeing, and just driving around looking at the beauty of the place--all of these are a part of this tourist growth.
The economy of the Adirondacks area is also heavily dependent on tourism. Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, is but one of many ski areas. The state of New York oversees much of the area through its Adirondack State Park, America's largest state park.
Strung along the seashores and around the lakes, and strewn across the mountains, is a growing collection of vacation homes--second homes for the well-to-do. They are occupied by the owners for a few months or a few weeks each year and then rented for as much of the rest of the time as possible to help pay the purchase and upkeep costs. In a number of the counties of northern New England, there are more of these part-time dwellings than there are permanently occupied houses.
Finally, many of the coastal communities of Maine, the small college towns of Vermont and New Hampshire, and old villages throughout the region have become popular retirement centers.
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