Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Are You a City Mouse or a Country Mouse?

If you’re making career plans, you may have a definite preference for the urban lifestyle or the rural lifestyle. Some people prefer the diversity, lively cultural scene, public transportation, really good restaurants, and fast pace of city life. Others would rather enjoy the big horizons, closeness to nature, traditional values, quiet, and slow pace of rural life.
If you have already made your choice of a career goal, you may have already settled this issue. Some careers, such as those in the performing arts, are very difficult to sustain in a rural area. On the other hand, many occupations in agriculture and mining require the open countryside that is scarce in urban areas.
But let’s assume that you have not yet made your career choice. One factor to consider is that, all things being equal, there tend to be more job openings in urban areas simply because there are so many businesses. Of course, you also face more competition in cities because there are so many workers with skills like yours. Another two-edged sword is the higher pay that urban jobs usually command; this may be offset by the higher cost of living (especially for housing and locally provided services) in urban areas.
So I’m not going to try to influence your thinking on this issue. I’ll assume that you have a definite preference for either urban or rural living but have not yet settled on a career goal, either as a first occupation or as a midcareer shift. So let me show to you which occupations have a high concentration in either urban or rural settings, and maybe you can find one that matches your skills and not just your preferences for location.
To calculate the urban percentage for each occupation for which I could get information, I identified the 38 largest metropolitan areas out of all 380 metro areas for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports workforce size (in the Occupational Employment Statistics data). For each occupation, I summed the number of workers employed in these 38 metro areas and then divided it by the total number of workers in that same occupation throughout the United States.
For the following list, I set the cutoff for this urban percentage at 70. In other words, this list shows those occupations for which at least 70 percent of the workers are employed in the largest cities. The occupations are ordered to put those with the highest urban percentage at the top of the list.
Occupation                                                                   Urban Percentage
Fashion Designers                                                     85%
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes   82%
Parking Lot Attendants                                               80%
Film and Video Editors                                               79%
Media and Communication Workers, All Other     78%
Art Directors                                                                  78%
Political Scientists                                                       75%
Sound Engineering Technicians                              74%
Multimedia Artists and Animators                            74%
Software Developers, Applications                          74%
Producers and Directors                                            74%
Economists                                                                  73%
Financial Analysts                                                       72%
Sales Engineers                                                          72%
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents            72%
Brokerage Clerks                                                        72%
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists          72%
Manicurists and Pedicurists                                      71%
Software Developers, Systems Software               71%
Marketing Managers                                                   71%
Writers and Authors                                                    71%
Actors                                                                             71%
Computer Network Architects                                   70%
Information Security Analysts                                    70%
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists               70%
Computer and Information Systems Managers    70%
Baggage Porters and Bellhops                                70%

To calculate the rural percentage for occupations, I used a procedure similar to what I used for the urban percentage. However, instead of using workforce figures that applied to metropolitan areas, I used figures for the 172 nonmetropolitan areas for which the BLS reports occupational earnings. These nonmetro areas are regions such as east central Pennsylvania, the Low Country of South Carolina, coastal Oregon, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
In the following list, the cutoff percentage is 25, which means that at least 25 percent of the workforce of each occupation is employed in the 172 nonmetropolitan areas. The occupations with the highest rural percentages are at the top of the list.
Occupation                                                                   Rural Percentage
Mine Shuttle Car Operators                                       71%
Roof Bolters, Mining                                                    66%
Logging Equipment Operators                                 63%
Postmasters and Mail Superintendents                 53%
Forest and Conservation Technicians                    51%
Roustabouts, Oil and Gas                                         51%
Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians             47%
Sawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Wood        45%
Loading Machine Operators, Underground Mining    43%
Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining         40%
Continuous Mining Machine Operators                  40%
Wellhead Pumpers                                                     40%
Slaughterers and Meat Packers                               40%
Highway Maintenance Workers                                39%
Helpers--Extraction Workers                                     39%
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas                         38%
Log Graders and Scalers                                          38%
Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Except Sawing            35%
Legislators                                                                    35%
Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders    34%
Agricultural Equipment Operators                            33%
Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers      33%
Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals           32%
Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters            31%
Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas                                29%
Correctional Officers and Jailers                              28%
Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders               28%
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators             28%
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers    27%
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators    27%
Fallers                                                                            26%
Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators and Tenders                26%
Foresters                                                                       25%
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers              25%
Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Operators     25%
First-Line Supervisors of Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Workers        25%
Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators      25%