You can learn a lot about America by asking what people do for a living in different places. For example, guess the U.S. metropolitan area where bartenders are most concentrated. Ocean City, N.J. How about dentists? Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. Economists? The greater Washington area.
I extracted these tidbits and much more by perusing “location quotient” data that’s collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest annual batch, based on data from May 2021, was released on March 31 as part of the bureau’s occupational employment and wage statistics. This is the first year in which the bureau used its new (2018) system of occupational classification, which features nearly 800 detailed occupations, from electricians to fish and game wardens.
Some of the results come as no surprise (political scientists are thickest on the ground in Washington and petroleum engineers in Midland, Texas), but some are baffling. Why are fund-raisers most disproportionately common in Corvallis, Ore.? Why curators in Wilmington, N.C.? Why zoologists and wildlife biologists in Fairbanks, Alaska?
I sifted through 38,000 rows in the bureau’s Excel spreadsheet for states and 147,000 rows for the metropolitan area spreadsheet to find interesting items. I’ve produced four tables below to display my findings. If you can explain some of the odder details, such as the disproportionate share of shampooers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, please write to me at [email protected]
Below is the first table. It shows, for each U.S. state and territory, what occupation has the highest location quotient — in other words, which occupation is most disproportionately popular.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines location quotient as “the ratio of an occupation’s share of employment in a given area to that occupation’s share of employment in the United States as a whole. For example, an occupation that makes up 10 percent of employment in a specific metropolitan area compared with 2 percent of U.S. employment would have a location quotient of 5 for the area in question.”
This table is self-explanatory, although if you don’t live in the woods, you might not know that a faller (Idaho) is a person who fells trees for a living. Shampooers, as noted above, have the highest location quotient by state in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Second-highest in New Jersey — not shown — are cardiologists. (A New Jersey cardiologist who gives shampoos would be off the charts.) I expected some gambling occupation to be No. 1 in Nevada but the actual leader is continuous mining machine operators. Gambling dealers were No. 2.
This second table flips things around. I picked 48 popular occupations to see in which state or territory each has the highest location quotient. The greater Washington metropolitan area pops up a lot. One reason is that it’s more like a city than a state so it has a lot of the kinds of jobs that exist in cities and few of the kind that exist outside of them, such as farming, mining and fishing. (Not to mention that Washington is unusual anyway.)
My third table is like the second except for metropolitan areas. I looked at 48 occupations. This is where you learn that Madison, Wis., is where web developers are most disproportionately popular. The table also shows that the metropolitan area with the highest proportion of athletes and sports competitors is Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., an area better known for its bronzed retirees. Budget analysts are the most concentrated in Carson City, Nev., and fashion designers in the greater Portsmouth, N.H., area. That last one really surprised me because I was in Portsmouth recently and did not see fashion designers clogging the streets.
The fourth and final table is my homage to the hometown of The New York Times. I listed all of the occupations in metropolitan New York that have a location quotient of 2 or more. (Metropolitan New York includes Long Island, northeastern New Jersey, one county in eastern Pennsylvania and the city’s northern suburbs.) A location quotient of 2 means the job is two times as popular in metropolitan New York as it is in the United States as a whole. I left in the rounded-off quotients so that you could see the spread. I would have expected financial jobs to be far higher but on second thought it makes sense that the No. 1 distinguishing feature of metropolitan New York is the subway.
Number of the week
This is the estimated level of the consumer confidence indicator for the eurozone nations in May, according to the median of forecasts by economists surveyed by FactSet. That would be a slight improvement from 22 in April. The measure has averaged -10.9 since its inception in 2000. The official number is set to be released on Friday.
Quote of the day
“So the question whether we can execute a soft landing or not, it may actually depend on factors that we don’t control.”
— The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, in an interview with Marketplace radio, May 12
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