Request Info

Suburbs in 4 Metro Areas That Are Losing High-Skilled Commuters

January 30, 2017 by Emsi Burning Glass


The Dallas skyline

Our company is based in a small town where the local joke is that we have a rush minute instead of a rush hour. This isn’t entirely accurate (sometimes we get stuck in traffic for a good five minutes), but we know we have it pretty good when it comes to our commutes.

That’s not the case for many Americans.

The average commute to work rose to 26 minutes in 2014, up from 21 minutes in 1980, according to the Census Bureau. Nearly 1 in 5 workers have commutes that are 45 minutes or longer.

This is a drag for folks who have no choice but to grind out long car rides twice a day, sure. But it also has negative consequences—call it a talent drain—for the bedroom communities that lose skilled workers to larger towns or the local hub for jobs in their regions.

Consider McKinney and Frisco, Texas. These are growing cities in the bustling northern part of Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, one of four major MSAs we analyzed with our new workforce data by place of residence to see how net commuters flood out en masse every weekday morning to work elsewhere.

For this analysis, we focused on computer and mathematical occupations—a major group of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system that includes computer programmers, database and network administrators, statisticians, actuaries, etc. These are high-skilled, high-tech workers.

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

In the Dallas metro, at least 6,500 computer and math workers commute from McKinney and Frisco to nearby Plano or farther to Irving, Dallas, and Fort Worth. This estimate comes from Emsi’s occupation data—both our place of work data and place or residence data—by ZIP code.

About 4,400 people work in computer and math jobs in the ZIP codes that make up McKinney and Frisco. But there are nearly 11,000 resident computer and math workers in these two suburbs, per our place of residence data—which we derive using the Census LODES dataset. These are people who live in McKinney and Frisco but work elsewhere.

Note: The green areas on the map indicate areas where commuters enter a region, while the red areas indicate commuters leaving a region.


Most of these commuters reside in ZIP codes 75070 and 75071 in McKinney and 75033 and 75035 in Frisco. But other cities like Allen, Wylie, and The Colony—at least certain ZIPs in each of these cities—lose a significant number of net commuters

ZIPZIP Name2016 Computer and Math Jobs2016 Resident Workers (Computer and Math Occupations)2016 Net Commuters
75070McKinney, TX (in Collin county)7083,089-2,381
75025Plano, TX (in Collin county)3362,386-2,050
75035Frisco, TX (in Collin county)5302,357-1,827
75002Allen, TX (in Collin county)3912,142-1,751
75056The Colony, TX (in Denton county)3341,915-1,581
75023Plano, TX (in Collin county)3511,820-1,469
75098Wylie, TX (in Collin county)2071,585-1,378
75033Frisco, TX (in Denton county)1421,405-1,263
75068Little Elm, TX (in Denton county)821,314-1,232
75007Carrollton, TX (in Denton county)5551,733-1,178
75067Lewisville, TX (in Denton county)6551,828-1,173
75052Grand Prairie, TX (in Dallas county)3511,495-1,144
75071McKinney, TX (in Collin county)2091,316-1,107
76244Keller, TX (in Tarrant county)1751,245-1,070
75040Garland, TX (in Dallas county)2031,262-1,059

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell

Thousands of computer and math workers commute into downtown Atlanta or just north to Sandy Springs and the Vinings area. Where are they commuting from?

As the map indicates below, pretty much from all over the metro. The densest ZIP codes, however, for computer and math commuters are in Roswell (particularly ZIP code 30075), Cumming, and Lawrenceville. Parts of Marietta, too, see lots of out-commuting.


San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward

As part of Silicon Valley, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA is home to 134,000 computer and math jobs. These knowledge workers don’t go to one core spot in San Francisco—as the map below shows, there are pockets of green (indicating in-commuting) scattered across the metro area.

A good share of the computer and math commuters—those who reside inside the MSA, that is; there are plenty who come from outside—live in pockets of Fremont, Union City, Hayward, and Livermore in Alameda County and Redwood City and Daly City in San Mateo County.

ZIP codes in the heart of San Francisco—around AT&T Park in the Mission District and the Sunset District south of Golden Gate Park, for example—also show up as concentrated areas for net commuters (meaning there are more out-commuters than in-commuters).



Computer and math workers in the Seattle metro usually end in Redmond (home to Microsoft and Nintendo), Bellevue (where Expedia, T-Mobile, and other companies are based), or downtown Seattle.

Heavy commuting areas are Sammamish, Bothell, and parts of Renton.


These are suburbs—like McKinney and Frisco in the Dallas metro, Roswell in the Atlanta metro, and Fremont in the San Francisco metro—that are reliant on other communities to provide jobs for their residents. That’s OK when bedroom communities want to stay bedroom communities, but some of these areas might realize they can recruit companies to their backyard—much closer to where their workers live.

About Emsi’s Place of Residence Data

Emsi’s place of residence data comes from the Census LODES data, specifically from Origin and Destination (OD) data, Regional Area Characteristics (RAC), and Workforce Area Characteristics (WAC) data, which Emsi applies to our occupation jobs figures.

Photo credit: Flickr/Manhattan4

Data for this post comes from Emsi Developer. For more information on Emsi’s occupation and industry data, contact Josh Wright ([email protected]) or visit our data page.

Want to get notified?