Changing population composition outside the 25-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, coupled with shifting patterns of economic production, personal consumption, housing construction, and increased traffic on trunk highways are transforming Minnesota's regional centers and the rural areas adjacent to them, and reshaping the ways that households and businesses function within these dispersed communities. But the nature of recent changes, their consequences for the state, the underlying forces producing them, and the ways that they relate to the use of the state's trunk highways and other infrastructure are neither well known nor understood.
This study examined population and housing change, changes in industrial activity and occupational changes, and characteristics of commuters and their travel behavior. Researchers also explored ways in which Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) and Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) might be exploited to shed additional insight into the changing nature of the demographic, economic and commuting patterns that are now pervasive throughout Greater Minnesota. These data are evaluated to explore links between demographic and economic features of working-age populations, and relationships between worker and household characteristics and aspects of commuting activity on the other. The final chapter examines regional economic vitality and travel behavior across the Minnesota Countryside.