In 2002, 47 counties in North Carolina had 50 percent or more of their residents working in the same county in which they lived. By 2005, it had dropped to 44 counties with the decline continuing until 2007 — the last good year before the Great Recession — when only 30 counties had 50 percent of residents working in their home counties.
As the economy started to improve, it dropped to 21 counties in 2009. By 2011, there were only 15 counties where 50 percent or more of the residents worked in the same county in which they lived. Of those 15, only Wake County has seen an increase in the number of people who work and live in the same county (a 16.7% increase from 2002 to 2011).
How do we know this? The U.S. Census Bureau provides an economic development tool that is available on its website called OnTheMap, a mapping and reporting application that shows the relationship between where workers are employed and where they live. It also provides exportable reports on workers’ age, sex, race/ethnicity, earnings, industry distributions, and educational attainment, as well as firm age and firm size variables.
OnTheMap is a great resource for mapping the travel patterns of workers and identifying small area workforce characteristics. Commuting patterns, work flows, and distance and direction reports can significantly help determine the travel patterns within and around a specific local area. Users can create area profiles of data that may not be regularly published at lower levels (i.e., cities, zip codes, or census tracts). It also allows comparisons of areas such as counties or major cities within a geography.
OnTheMap is supported by the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and also uses data collected by various states from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report, a Bureau of Labor Statistics program. This partnership between federal and state entities, the Local Employment Dynamics Partnership, currently includes all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although data for the state of Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still pending. Data are available from 2002 to 2011 for most geographies.