Rogue Valley Workforce and Commuting Patterns from OnTheMap

by Guy Tauer

September 24, 2019

The Census Bureau’s OnTheMap program is a web-based mapping and reporting application that shows where workers are employed and where they live. It also provides companion reports on age, earnings, industry distributions, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and sex. In most cases data are published down to the Census tract level of detail if there are enough jobs or workers within those geographies.

To highlight some of this available data, I analyzed two employment centers within Medford using the online tool’s hand-drawn selection feature. First I looked at the area of Medford which includes the Rogue Valley Medical Center, and then looked at the workers characteristics for the geographic area around the Rogue Valley Mall. About 3,000 private primary jobs were located near the vicinity of the Rogue Valley Medical Center campus and about 1,000 private primary jobs in the geographic area which includes the Rogue Valley Mall. As you might have assumed, some of the workers characteristics vary widely between these two areas.

A higher share of younger workers were employed in the Rogue Valley Mall area. In the area that includes the Rogue Valley Mall (RVM), 54.1 percent of workers were 29 years old or younger. In the area which includes the Rogue Valley Medical Center (RVMC) just 14.4 percent of workers were less than 30 years old. Workers ages 55 and older comprised 28.4 percent of workers in the RVMC geographic area but only 15.7 of workers in the RVM geography.

As you might expect, wages were appreciably higher in the RVMC geographic area. Two-thirds of jobs in the RVMC geography paid more than $3,333 per month. In the RVM geography, only 11 percent of jobs paid more than $3,333 per month. Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 7.5 percent of total in the RVMC geographic area, and more than double that percentage, 18.3 percent of workers in the RVM geography.

Workers in the RVMC geographic area had higher education levels than those in the RVM geography. For workers where educational attainment data are available (workers age 30 or older) show about one-half of RVM area workers had a high school education or less. About one-third of RVMC geographic area workers had that level of educational attainment. Just 16.4 percent of RVM geographic area workers had a bachelor’s degree or greater level of education compared with 24.8 percent of RVMC area workers.

Both Medford RVMC and RVM geographic areas had a large share of female workers, at 72.7 and 65.5 percent, respectively.

Looking more broadly at Jackson County, the OnTheMap data shows that about 23,000 of Jackson County’s 71,607 primary job workers lived in Medford. Central Point, Ashland, and White City are the next largest home cities of workers who are employed within Jackson County.
For Josephine County, looking at commuting pattern data with the county by “place” or city level might not be as informative, as there are only two incorporated areas – Grants Pass and Cave Junction. The OnTheMap tool allows many data sets published down to the Census tract or block group level. For example, using the “worker area comparison analysis by block group” tool, you can find the percentage of workers in each census tract and block group that earn $1,250 per month or less.

Find More Workforce Data at Census OnTheMap

Data on where workers live and are employed are available from the Census OnTheMap website. These data can be useful to transportation and other planners who want to look at commuting patterns such as distance and direction that workers commute, or where and how far workers commute from to reach their employment locations. Businesses might use this data to look at their labor sheds and how far workers might be commuting from to reach their business. Since data are often available down to the Census tract level, businesses and transportation planners can access specific data on where workers live and where residents are employed.

OnTheMap provides an easy-to-use interface for creating, viewing, printing and downloading workforce related maps, profiles, and underlying data. Based on 2002-2017 LEHD Origin Destination Employment Statistics (LODES), OnTheMap is a unique resource for mapping the travel patterns of workers and identifying small-area workforce characteristics: For more information on the inputs to the LODES dataset, please see the Data Sources page.

Confidentiality is protected through a variety of methods employed by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau and its state partners are committed to protecting the confidentiality and integrity of the underlying workforce and employment data files. The Census Bureau employs statistical techniques to ensure that actual statistics are not shown if the numbers in a cell are small. Rather, the mapping displays and tabular reports show synthetic data that are statistically analogous to actual worker counts and locations but not exact.

Technically, the method used to protect the residential address information for each workplace address is called "synthetic data," which involves modeling the underlying data in a manner that protects confidentiality, then making random draws from that model. The method used to protect the workplace information is to combine the confidential data with noise in a manner that ensures that the published data, while not exact, become increasingly more accurate as the number of businesses in a workplace area gets larger. No business's actual data are used for any workplace reports. The employment data for private employers are controlled to state-level totals provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep this in mind when using this data at a detailed level.

There is a lot of information to explore on this interactive tool and website. Please feel free to contact me if you have any difficulty accessing or using this data from the Census Bureau.

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