New! Occupation Data by Where Workers Live

Published on Jan 17, 2017

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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Decades ago, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, companies made site selection decisions based on the natural resources they needed. Now, “people are the natural resources” around which companies are trying to better position themselves.

As the average U.S. commute time pushes just beyond 25 minutes, economic developers and HR departments increasingly need to understand where their talent lives in order to better connect to their workforce.

Emsi is thrilled to announce the addition of place of residence data to our tools to bring unparalleled insight to address this challenge.

With place of residence data, you can analyze your workforce by where they live in addition to where they work. Available at the 5-digit occupation and ZIP code level, Emsi place of residence data shows detailed workforce data in a more intuitive way.

For example:

1. How many software applications developers live within a 20-minute commute from downtown Houston?

Normally when we look at occupation data for a 20-minute drive from downtown Houston, our analysis would only focus on jobs by place of work. Now this is not a bad way to perform an analysis, but often economic developers have different needs. Whether it is attracting a company to your area or assisting a current business, they want to best position that company around the talent they need.

In Houston’s 77002 ZIP code, Emsi estimates there are 840 software developers. But only 42 software developers live in that same ZIP. This could mean that this downtown ZIP code is a great place to work. But often, as our clients have noted, companies would opt be closer to their talent—if they knew where their talent lived. Sorting by resident workers shows us there are 5,576 resident software developers in this 20-minute commute, though there are 7,886 actual software developers working in this commute.

If we widen our scope to look at the whole MSA, we can see that our software developers generally live in the western and outer ring around Houston.

By using Emsi’s mapping tool, we can also sort by the net commuters column to quickly pinpoint areas of high outbound commuting (blue) and areas of high inbound commuting (red) for this occupation.

2. Where do customer service reps live in the Phoenix MSA? 

Looking at the data below, we can see the top three ZIPs for customer service reps based on where they live: 85225, 85308, and 85032. If we compared these occupations by place of work and residence, there are twice as many people living in these three ZIPs in Chandler, Glendale, and Phoenix as there are people actually working. For MSAs, place of residence data does a great job of highlighting bedroom communities and areas of high occupational concentration based on residence. We can use this to highlight potential opportunities for attraction, relocation, and even focused recruitment.

3. Where are the areas of high inbound and outbound commuting for software developers in the Seattle MSA?

Based on our data, Bellevue and Redmond—two Seattle suburbs—have the two highest areas of inbound commuters for computer systems analysts; the 98004 and 98052 ZIP codes have 5,652 and 4,241 inbound commuters, respectively. Given that companies like Microsoft and Expedia have offices in these ZIPs, the number of inbound commuters is not surprising.

On the outbound commuter side, 98074 in Sammamish and 98012 in Bothell both have over 750 software developers who commute elsewhere to work. Again, this would be a great opportunity to locate a company or target recruiting efforts.

This new data allows EDOs and companies to research cities based on what they care about—talent. In an economy where locating talent is a higher priority than ever before, Emsi’s place of residence data provides insight into our customers’ questions. As we continue to innovate and expand our labor market data, we are excited to work closely with our clients and be the premier resource for your community insights.

For Emsi Analyst and Developer users, place of residence data is available in the occupation table and maps sections.

If you would like to learn more about this data, email Josh Wright ( or call 866-999-EMSI (3674). Learn more about how we help economic development professionals here and private companies here.