The powerful “dot map” brings urban employment data to life.

One of the best visualizations of race in America might be called pointillist. By mapping one dot for every Census-registered human in the country, color-coded for race, a team at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center of Public Service rendered abstract social data painfully personal.

Robert Manduca, a Harvard PhD student in sociology and a mapmaker, has brought the power of the dot to a new dataset: Jobs. Using 2010 LEHD Census data, and much of the code that brought the racial dot map to life, Manduca created an interactive map of one dot for every job location in America.

Red dots represent manufacturing and trade. Blue dots are professional services. Green represents healthcare, education, and government. Yellow is retail, hospitality, and other services.

New York City

“These kinds of maps are great when you’re talking about individuals,” says Manduca, “Especially when you’re talking about jobs, because jobs are more concentrated than people. It gets across how tightly packed they are in many U.S. cities.”

Manduca’s point hits homes when you look at a map of New York City. Higher-income professionals are heavily concentrated in ultra-expensive Manhattan. Meanwhile, a fair amount of industrial activity can still be seen throughout parts of north Brooklyn, while Queens has a wide diversity of employmentreflecting the record job growth that borough has recently enjoyed.

San Francisco/Oakland

Meanwhile, San Francisco and Oakland have just a sprinkle of manufacturing and trade labor left. To the south, electronics heavy-hitter San Jose is relatively loaded.

San Jose

Though he studies urban economic development, Manduca was still somewhat surprised to see how important downtowns remain as employment concentrators. By a significant measure, most jobs are still outside urban cores, “the result of a retreat from America’s cities that has been going on for decades,” as the New York Times has written. But in some cities, employment—particularly highly skilled and high-paying employment—is growing in downtowns, and declining in the suburbs.

Manduca was also curious to see how concentrated jobs are in the suburbs, too. “I thought they’d be more evenly spread,” he says.

As with any kind of map, some nuance is inherently lost in the quest for clarity. In this case, all American jobs are reduced to four main categories. Plus, the LEHD lacks data for Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, so those places are just plain missing. And there are certain jobs that aren’t counted in this particular Census data set, or that aren’t available to the public. “There are a lot of federal government jobs that aren’t in the data set for security reasons,” Manduca says. “There are parts of D.C. that appear to be very empty.”

Explore the full interactive map, “Where Are the Jobs?,” here.

Los Angeles

New Orleans

Washington, D.C.

Detroit

Las Vegas

Chicago

All images courtesy of Robert Manduca.

H/T: Emily Badger at the Washington Post

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The legs of a crash-test dummy.
    Transportation

    A Clue to the Reason for Women’s Pervasive Car-Safety Problem

    Crash-test dummies are typically models of an average man. Women are 73 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident. These things are probably connected.

  2. a photo of the First Pasadena State Bank building, designed by Texas modernist architects MacKie and Kamrath. It will be demolished on July 21.
    Design

    The Lonely Death of a South Texas Skyscraper

    The First Pasadena State Bank, a 12-story modernist tower inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, has dominated this small town near Houston since 1962.

  3. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  4. A NASA rendering of a moon base with lunar rover from 1986.
    Life

    We Were Promised Moon Cities

    It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 put humans on the surface of the moon. Why didn’t we stay and build a more permanent lunar base? Lots of reasons.

  5. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

×