“Everywhere Jobs” and the Red-Blue Divide: Does What You Do Decide Where You Live?

Your job might determine where you live, and where you live might decide what work you do. Many jobs and industries cluster in specific places. We all know that movies are in Los Angeles, finance is in New York, and oil drilling is wherever the oil is, but other industries have traditionally clustered as well— like carpet-making in northern Georgia, musical instruments in Elkhart, Indiana, and costume jewelry in Providence, Rhode Island.

Jobs cluster in particular places for many reasons. Some industries, like mining or transportation, need to be near natural resources like oil in the ground or a port. Some clusters begin around a university or even randomly but get reinforced over time if clustering boosts economic productivity or provides workers with a form of insurance (if you lose your job, there’s a similar one nearby).

Still, not all jobs cluster. Many show no special geographic pattern: they exist wherever people live. We call these “everywhere jobs.” They are occupations that you might be able to find wherever you are — which is a big plus if, because of personal or family reasons, you might be tied to a particular place or have to move to a new one.

Looking at the tens of millions of jobs posted on Indeed in the U.S. at any time in 2016, we identified which occupations are the most clustered in particular places and which, in contrast, are everywhere jobs, with no particular geographic pattern. We calculated an index for each occupation that shows how geographically similar it is to U.S. employment overall. The index equals 100 if an occupation’s geographical pattern is identical to that of U.S. jobs generally. The next section looks at the everywhere jobs versus the most clustered jobs. Then, the following section takes a closer look at jobs that cluster in a particular way, along red-state/blue-state lines.

Everywhere Jobs vs. Clustered Jobs

If you want a job that doesn’t tie you to a particular place, it helps to be good with people. The jobs that are found nearly everywhere include customer service reps, sales managers, retail salespeople, and childcare workers. Being good with pets helps, too: nonfarm animal caretakers score high on the everywhere index. Other everywhere jobs include maids and housekeeping cleaners, food prep and food service, and security guards. Several managerial and supervisory roles are found nearly everywhere, too: these are among the better-paying everywhere jobs.

A commonality across many of these everywhere jobs is that they involve working with customers face-to-face or on-site. They are jobs that are needed wherever people (and their pets and children) live: in urban and in rural areas, and in all regions of the country. Everywhere jobs tend not to be highly technical or specialized, though there are some technical or specialized jobs that have a very high everywhere index but not quite high enough to make the top-fifteen list, such as administrative law judges, clerks, and hearing officers, as well as computer support specialists and medical technicians.

In comparison, occupations ranking low on…

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