Thursday, April 21, 2016

Your area’s labor market information is “OnTheMap”

The Census Bureau’s online mapping tool provides a wealth of location-specific labor market information 

 By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist 

“If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.” Ashleigh Brilliant 

This isn’t your same old blog post about data. Instead of analyzing and sharing data, this post covers how to access an extremely useful “big data” labor market information tool. What is this tool? The U.S. Census Bureau’s OnTheMap web-based mapping and reporting application.

What’s so great about OnTheMap? Typically, we report labor market information at the state and county level. Local-level data is harder to come by. Along with the ability to provide labor market profiles of small and large nonstandard areas, OnTheMap graphically demonstrates where people work and where workers live. Users can define their own geographies and obtain data and maps at the census-block level of detail. This flexibility can quickly provide information for emergency and transportation planning, site location and economic development.

Do you want to understand commuting patterns for a particular area? OnTheMap can generate maps of outflow and inflow. Do you want to know the basic characteristics of workers in your town? OnTheMap has that information. Do you want to identify the employment characteristics along a specific stretch of highway? OnTheMap can deliver that data. Do you want to discern how many workers live within a 50-mile radius of a particular site? OnTheMap delivers.

Where does this data come from? OnTheMap combines federal and state administrative data on workers and employees with Census Bureau census and survey data. Don’t worry. Using state-of-the-art methods, the Census Bureau is committed to protecting the confidentiality of business and personal information.

Where People Work 

Let’s run through a few examples of how OnTheMap outputs can help you understand your local economy. Suppose the Ephraim City Council wants to know where the residents of their town work. OnTheMap indicates roughly 40 percent of the city’s working residents are employed in Ephraim itself (zip code 84627). Not surprisingly, other high concentrations of Ephraim workers are in nearby towns. Interestingly, 28 percent of Ephraim workers commute to the Wasatch Front (Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties) for employment.

Next, the Mayor wants to know how many workers travel into Ephraim for employment. OnTheMap suggests that roughly equal numbers are entering and exiting Ephraim for employment purposes. In-commuters are most likely to drive from Manti.

 Labor Market Characteristics 

Now, these local government officials have decided they would like to know the characteristics of those folks that work or live in Ephraim. OnTheMap can provide age-group, earnings, industry, race/ethnicity, gender and educational attainment information. For example, OnTheMap shows the following characteristics for working residents of Ephraim:

• 27 percent are 29 years or younger
• 29 percent make more than $3,333 a month
• 23 percent work in education, healthcare or social services
• 8 percent are Latino
• 18 percent have at least a Bachelor’s degree
• 46 percent are female

Getting Specific 

A company thinking of locating to Ephraim is interested in the number (and characteristics) of workers within a standard commuting distance of a particular worksite. Economic development professionals can specify a particular radius and obtain a report. Other shapes (donut and plume) are also available. In addition, users can draw their own polygons in OnTheMap. To determine how many workers may be inconvenienced by a road construction project, just draw a line along the length of the project and “buffer” the selection.

You should begin to see what a valuable informational tool OnTheMap can be for planning and economic development purposes. OnTheMap is available here.