When we talk about the densities of neighborhoods, there is a tendency to focus on how many people live in an area. But it can be equally important to talk about how many jobs are there, and what types. The maps below show where the jobs in our region are as well as how much they pay.

Part of the reason people focus on residential population densities is that US Census data makes them easy to find. The Census doesn’t directly report data on job densities, but its Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program combines data from Census surveys and data reported by states to produce a list of all the employers in the country, along with their locations and how many people they employ.

Using this data, a Harvard graduate student named Robert Manduca created an interactive map of jobs across the US, color-coded based on sector of the economy and pay (the image above shows jobs by sector, but if you click for the interactive version, you can toggle to see jobs by pay).  The data is arranged by Census blocks, with one dot per job located randomly within its Census block.

On the maps that show what sectors jobs are in, each dot’s color correlates to a job type: red for manufacturing and logistics, yellow for retail and hospitality, blue for professional services, and green for healthcare, education, and government.

Zooming in on the Washington region, we can see some interesting patterns. Of course, downtown DC and walkable areas around Metro in Arlington and Alexandria are hotspots for jobs.

The Ballston-Rosslyn corridor in Arlington.

But the area also has a number of large job clusters in areas farther from the core and Metro as well. Notably, though, these job clusters are quite different in different parts of the region.  In Virginia, jobs outside of the region’s core are mostly concentrated in a few major clusters and along freeways. For example, near Dulles Airport, along the corridor where Phase II of the Silver Line will be:

Jobs clustered around the intersection of the Dulles Toll Road and Fairfax County Parkway. The airport is just to the west.

In Maryland, though, there seems to be a much less sharp distribution.  There are a few large clusters, particularly in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Bethesda, and along US 1 in Prince George’s County, but there is also much more of a low-density distribution of jobs outside these clusters than is seen in most of Virginia.

The region’s stark east-west economic divide is also very visible on these maps. On the maps of incomes, yellow dots are for jobs that pay $1250/month or lower, orange for $1250-$3333/month, and purple for over $3333/month.

The large clusters of higher-paying jobs, and particularly of professional, government, education, and healthcare jobs are nearly all west of the Capitol. 

West of the US Capitol.

East of the Capitol, we see much larger concentrations of manufacturing and logistics jobs, and fewer jobs in general.

East of the US Capitol.

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DW Rowlands is an adjunct chemistry professor and Prince George’s County native, currently living in College Park. More of their writing on transportation-related and other topics can be found on their website.  They also write on DC transportation and demographic issues for the DC Policy Center, where they are a Fellow. In their spare time, they volunteer for Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit. However, the views expressed here are their own.