The United Skills of America [Infographic]

Odds are you’ve heard someone say, “The job market is tough these days.” Between the skills gap and the still-hobbling American economy, finding meaningful employment can be a challenge.

But have you ever considered that certain skills might just be easier to find in certain places? Maybe Californians are better at graphic design than Connecticut residents. Maybe a Wisconsonite’s knowledge of financial accounting surpasses that of a Utah native. If this were true, it might indicate a relatively higher or lower value for that skill in the job market locally. We thought we’d take a look.

Click the picture below to enlarge the image.

We looked at about twenty of our most popular professional tests, from AP Style to Python and from investment banking to Illustrator. We split the US into five geographical regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, the Rockies and Plains, and the West Coast.

Then we found the average score in each skill both nationally and within each region. Comparing these numbers allowed us to see which skills each region was better at than everyone else.

Based on the two worst skills in each region, we started to get a picture of the jobs that aren’t easy to fill in that part of the country. We took this knowledge to US Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment data by position, and combed through for job categories that matched the skills each region lacked.  Then we compared the regional unemployment rate for that position to the regional unemployment rate overall, and finally to the national rate.

Here are some interesting stats to notice:

  • In the Midwest, users scored a full 19.8% lower in Javascript than users in the Rockies.  So if you’re a Javascript programmer without a job, consider making Colorado or New Mexico your new home!
  • The South scored 16% better than the rest of the country in Investment Banking, but the Northeast came out first in Excel and Basic Math.
  • Developer skills — such as PHP, Javascript and C++ — were much better in the West than the East.
  • In contrast, financial skills on the West Coast were weak, supported by the fact that the unemployment rate for Financial Analysts is a dramatic 3.1 percentage points lower than the regional rate.

We’re not expecting a mass exodus of web developers to Minneapolis, but it certainly is interesting to see how each region has its own specialties.

How do these skills compare to your expectations?