Most Popular Locations for Telecommuters

This week’s Map of the Week is the third in Urban Decision Group’s series of maps that examine commuting in the U.S.  Our first map dealt with Average Commuting Times in the U.S.  Last week’s map showed the Impact on Wages When Factoring in Commuting.  This week we decided to take a look at the Most Popular Locations for Working From Home.

The map uses county data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) and is ultimately aggregated into 10 square mile grid cells.  There were two criteria used in calculating a popular location “score”.  First, we looked at the total number of workers that work from home (telecommuters) in each U.S. county.  Then the data was normalized.  Normalization is the process of ranking the data on a scale of 0 to 1 using the county with the most telecommuters as the base.  The top county gets a score of 1 and all other counties are scored in proportion to the top county.  For example, Los Angeles County, California had 200,450 people working from home; therefore, they received a score of 1 for this category.  Maricopa County, Arizona was second on the list with 88,689 people working from home.  Their normalized score is 0.44 which was calculated by dividing the number of commuters in Marcopa County (88,689) by the top value from Los Angeles County (200,450).  This step was repeated for each county to produce a normalized telecommuting score.

The top ten counties in terms of total number of people working from home are:

  1. Los Angeles County, CA – 200,450
  2. Maricopa County, AZ – 88,689
  3. Cook County, IL – 88,287
  4. San Diego County, CA – 86,297
  5. Orange County, CA – 66,404
  6. Harris County, TX – 57,861
  7. King County, WA – 53,621
  8. New York County, NY – 52,281
  9. Riverside County, CA – 41,753
  10. Miami-Dade County, FL – 41,560

The second category we looked at was the number of people working from home as a percentage of all workers in the county.  Analyzing the data in this fashion allows us to pay proper attention to those counties that are not as heavily populated, but yet have a high percentage of workers telecommuting.  The top county in this category is Wheeler County, Nebraska which had 40.45% of their workers working from home.  This data was also normalized.

The counties with the highest percentage of the workforce working from home are:

  1. Wheeler County, NE – 40.45%
  2. Chattahoochee County, GA – 39.24%
  3. Slope County, ND – 38.19%
  4. Arthur County, NE – 32.88%
  5. Pulaski County, MO – 32.54%
  6. Billings County, ND – 30.51%
  7. Kidder County, ND – 29.20%
  8. Carter County, MT – 28.83%
  9. Harding County, SD – 28.11%
  10. Loup County, NE – 27.76%

The final score used in our map is  simply the combination of these two scores for each county divided by two.   This allows us to give equal weight to both data categories.  The final top ten counties are thus:

  1. Los Angeles County, CA  (normal score = 0.56)
  2. Wheeler County, NE (normal score = 0.50)
  3. Chatahoochee County, GA (normal score = 0.49)
  4. Slope County, ND (normal score = 0.47)
  5. Pulaski County, MO (normal score = 0.42)
  6. Arthur County, NE (normal score = 0.41)
  7. Billings County, ND (normal score = 0.38)
  8. Kidder County, ND (normal score = 0.36)
  9. Carter County, MT (normal score = 0.36)
  10. Harding County, SD (normal score = 0.35)

The final step was to apportion the data into 10 square mile grid cells.  This final step accomplishes a couple of things.  First, it makes it quick and easy to display on a web map.  Second, it ignores political boundaries by considering  data from surrounding counties.  The result is a thematic map that displays the most popular locations for telecommuters.

Urban Decision Group (UDG) is responsible for the creation of this map.

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