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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

April 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Rehab counselor? Some jobs stand out in Wash. city statistics

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here in the barony of Boeing, Seattle can boast the highest concentration of aerospace jobs compared with any other metro area in the land.

But what of other cities in our state? What occupations best characterize them?

Answers can be gleaned from last week’s release of the 2013 “Occupational Employment Statistics” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And some of them just might surprise you.

But first, some fine print:

The Bureau assigns each occupation a number called a “location quotient,” which is a ratio that represents how common a job is locally compared with its average in the U.S. A number greater than one means the job is overrepresented locally; less than one means it is underrepresented.

In the Seattle area, one occupation stands out from the rest with a “location quotient” of 29.5: aircraft assembler. This means that we employ aircraft assemblers at a rate 29.5 times higher than the national average, making this occupation (about 1 percent of the area workforce) the most overrepresented job.

In fact, the jobs with the three-highest “location quotients” in the Seattle area are all related to aerospace. Coming in at No. 4 is software developer for computer applications.

Take a look at the accompanying map. It shows the top job, compared with the national average, in Washington’s metro areas.

Some of the overrepresented occupations may seem offbeat. In Bellingham, with thousands of students cycling around town, the percentage of bike mechanics in the workforce is nearly 10 times higher than the U.S. average.

In Spokane, rehabilitation counselors take the top spot — um, no comment.

In Tacoma, tapers — construction workers who prepare drywall — narrowly beat out musical-instrument repairers.

In other areas of the state, the top jobs are closer to what you’d expect.

But if you guessed legislator for Olympia, wrong answer. Correct: conservation scientist. Lawmaker creeps in at 13th place.

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