More Fun Facts About Jobs and Cities and States

I think I got more emails about my Monday newsletter — “Why Are There So Many Shampooers in New Jersey?” — than about anything else I’ve written since I started this newsletter in August. A large fraction of them concerned Maryland; Ocean City, N.J.; and shampooers.

So, first, my apologies for leaving Maryland off the list of states and territories in the first table. It was an oversight that we’ve fixed on the web. To fill in the blank: The occupation in Maryland with the highest location quotient is astronomer. That means astronomers are disproportionately common in Maryland’s work force, more so than any other occupation.

I was also deluged with emails telling me that Ocean City, a beach town in southern New Jersey, couldn’t possibly be the place with the highest location quotient for bartenders because it’s “dry.” Public drinking is forbidden and restaurants don’t serve alcohol.

That’s true. But as I noted in the newsletter, the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics isn’t about individual towns and cities. It’s about entire metropolitan areas. And the Ocean City metro area encompasses all of Cape May County, including beach towns where bartenders are most definitely employed, such as Sea Isle City, Wildwood, Avalon and the city of Cape May.

As for shampoo, I received a lot of sociological theories about why New Jersey and Pennsylvania are shampoo states. Actually, most of the emails concerned New Jersey and were a bit unkind to the state that I call home. There were numerous references to “big hair.” I’m not going to repeat them. Some people theorized that the two states don’t necessarily do a lot more shampooing, but that employers are just more likely to identify workers as shampooers rather than, say, beauticians.

Some economists warned me that my results could be thrown off by sampling error, especially for niche occupations in small states or small metro areas. (Sampling error occurs when the sample you randomly select happens to be unlike the population it’s drawn from.) I contacted Audrey Watson, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics who works with location quotient data, and she confirmed that it’s a legitimate concern. She also said the bureau won’t report employment numbers for an occupation in an area if there are fewer than 30 people doing the job.

So I reran the numbers with that caution in mind. To be extra safe I set a threshold of 1,000 jobs. If there were fewer than 1,000 people working in an occupation in a particular state or metro, I left it out.

For the states, that produced some interesting changes. There were too few astronomers in Maryland to make the cut, for example. The occupation with 1,000 or more workers with the highest location quotient in the state last year was decidedly less galactic: “health care diagnosing or treating practitioners, all other.” Illinois also got more prosaic. Instead of “mathematical science occupations, all other,” it’s rail car repairers. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania it’s still shampooers.

California’s highest location-quotient occupation in the original table was farm labor contractors. At the 1,000-job threshold it’s not too different: “farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery and greenhouse.”

Using a higher threshold did seem to eliminate some of the oddities in the original table. For example, Delaware had been forest and conservation workers. Now it’s “meat, poultry and fish cutters and trimmers,” which makes more sense.

On the other hand, Kentucky got more surprising. Instead of mining roof bolters, the occupation with the highest location quotient at the 1,000-job threshold is “sailors and marine oilers.” Newsletter readers pointed out to me that this is probably because of ship traffic on the Ohio River that forms the state’s northern border.

I also reran the data for the metro areas in which selected occupations are the most disproportionately common. A bunch of the specialized occupations that I included on Monday were too small to be included: There were few if any metro areas in the country that had more than 1,000 of them. Greater New York is the only metro area in the nation with more than 1,000 curators, for example.

For anesthesiologists, Lima, Ohio, was bumped by New York. For bartenders, Ocean City, N.J., was bumped by the metro area including Salisbury, Md., and part of Delaware (for which the mayor of Ocean City will not shed tears).

At the 1,000-job threshold, the California metropolitan area of San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara seized the location quotient crown from smaller metro areas in several occupations, including computer programmer, data scientist and computer and information research scientist.

I’m still mystified about why there seem to be so many clergy members in the Pacific Northwest since it’s one of the least religious parts of the country. My newsletter on Monday had Corvallis, Ore., as the metro area where the clergy had the highest location quotient. At the 1,000-worker threshold it’s not too different: metropolitan Portland, Ore.

This stuff is endlessly fascinating.


Global supply chain pressures eased slightly between November and March, but “renewed strains” appeared in April, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced on Wednesday. A lengthening of delivery times from China was the biggest contributor, the New York Fed said. The bank first presented its Global Supply Chain Pressure Index in January, then posted an update in March. On Wednesday it introduced the index as a stand-alone product that will appear monthly. It incorporates data on global transportation costs and regional manufacturing conditions across seven economies going back to 1997.

Quote of the day

“No matter how hard you fall/ No matter how low you get/ You can always go down another hundred percent.”

— Joe Weisenthal, singing in an Odd Lots podcast variety show, Sept. 19, 2019

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