Sometime ago I read an article on the Forbes Magazine website about a yearly index they create that was screaming for a map. Every year demographers at Forbes comb through US Bureau of Labor Statistics data and the rate 'Best' small, medium and large US cities for job growth. As I read the article I kept wondering, "Where are these in relation to one another?" and "Is there a certain concentration geographically as a whole?" So I got my hands on the dataset and mapped it.
I know that's no surprise because that's what we do. And I also know that there is a backlash of 'over mapping' not necessarily geographic data on the webbernet. But I don't think that's the case here. Geography matters in this instance. First, of all the top 10 in Forbes' indexed cities, none are on the east coast. More than that, #1 & #2 are in, wait for it... Utah. Here's the Link to the full Application
Aside from mapping just the top 10, I also broke the cities out by Forbes' categorization of Small, Medium & Large. Within each layer symbolization of the point size represents number of non-farm jobs (X1,000). Saturation of the color is a higher ranking on the Forbes index. In other words, the more 'blue' the dot the higher the rank (or closer to #1).
Example: Wenatchee, WA is ranked #29 out of 421 cities but only has 43,000 jobs in the MSA.
Also interesting is that the Midwest/East Coast/New England has a disproportionate LACK of highly rated MSAs. If these data were normalized per capita and then turned into a heat map, the most populous part of the country would look like the arctic tundra. Sure, New York City is still #37, and a suburb of Indianapolis is #10 but looking at these regional areas, you can't help but visualize the discrepancy.
There are lots of other patterns and interesting factoids that can be derived and overlaid from looking at these data spatially; Near interstates, Climate, population density, university towns, etc. My point in doing this was not to dive down that rabbit hole, but to start the conversation from a spatial point of view.
Note: The data is actually not cities, rather Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and how the US Labor board collects and disseminates data. You can see the Forbes Magazine Methodology here. Also in order to get the data onto the map I was required to change a few of the MSAs for proper geocoding. Especially because the ABSOLUTE BEST place, Roanoke, Illinois doesn't have it's own MSA.