This visualization plots one dot for every job in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data. The LEHD data is based on state unemployment insurance records, and tabulates the count of jobs by census block. Here, jobs are colored by type, allowing us to see how different industries and sectors exhibit different spatial patterns–some clustering in downtowns, others spreading across city and suburbs alike.
This project was inspired by the Racial Dot Map, as implemented most recently by the Cooper Center at the University of Virginia. I’m grateful to them for hosting such a stunning visualization, and especially for their extensive methodology section, which I drew on heavily to create the map here.
Not surprisingly, jobs are concentrated in different areas. Geographic dispersion is not unusual in the United States as it includes racial and ethnic groups (ongoing patterns of residential segregation), spatial mismatches between where people live and work, and grouping by social class and other categories (like religion or cultural groups – see the books The Big Sort or Our Patchwork Nation).
Why jobs are so grouped could involve a variety of factors including zoning (communities wanting to place certain firms in certain places), economies of scale and innovation (it could make sense to concentrate large numbers of workers and/or organizations near each other), and historic patterns of businesses locating near each other.
Another issue is whether these patterns are generally good for organizations, workers, and communities.