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The Spatial Structure of U.S. Metropolitan Employment: New Insights from LODES Data

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The U.S. Census Bureau and the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership in collaboration with the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) and the Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute, welcomes Robert Manduca as he presents, “The Spatial Structure of U.S. Metropolitan Employment: New Insights from LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES) Data.” Urban researchers have long debated the extent to which metropolitan employment is monocentric, polycentric, or diffuse.

In this presentation Manduca uses high-resolution data based on unemployment insurance wage records to show that employment in U.S. metropolitan areas is not centralized but is spatially concentrated. Unlike residents, who form a continuous surface covering most parts of each metropolitan area, jobs have a bimodal spatial distribution, with most blocks containing no jobs whatsoever and a small number having extremely high employment densities. Across the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, about 75% of jobs are located on the 6.5% of built land in Census blocks with at least twice as many jobs as people. These relative proportions are extremely consistent across cities, even though they vary greatly in the physical density at which they are constructed.

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