Interpreting "place of work -- place level" variable

Hello, I am looking at Table B08008, which is the “Sex of Workers by Place of Work–Place Level” table from the 2022 ACS 5-year estimates. I am working with the tract-level data.

I am having trouble interpreting the variables here. My understanding is that “Total” would tell me the total working population in each tract, “Living in a place” would tell me how many of the workers there also live in that tract, and “Not living in a place” would tell me how many of the workers there do not live in the tract. Is that correct? What then does “Living in a place: Worked outside place of residence” mean – by my interpretation, this would be people who work and live in the tract, but that means they work in their place of residence?

I assume I am interpreting these variable definitions incorrectly. I would appreciate any guidance, thank you!

Dear Natalie,

“Place” is the Bureau’s general term for all city-like entities and includes both legally incorporated places (e.g. cities) and unincorporated centers of population that the Census Bureau groups into census designated places (CDP).Perhaps surprisingly, not everyone resides in a place; in 1990, approximately 66 million people (26 percent) in the United States lived outside of any place, either in small settlements, in the open countryside, or in the densely settled fringe of large cities in areas that were built-up, but not identifiable as places. This map shows all current places in the US.

Going back to your question, you are right that “Total” tells you the total working population (employed persons 16 years and over) in each tract. However, “Living in a place” tells you how many of these people residing in this tract also reside in a place (e.g., a city). In many cases, the entire population of a tract will also reside in a place - essentially, the census tract nests perfectly within a place. However, there are tracts that do not overlap with a place. In this case, none of the population will be “living in a place”.

When discussing place of work, the designations “Worked in place of residence” and “Worked outside place of residence” subdivides the population residing in a place into two groups:

  • Whether they work at a location that falls within the same place they live
  • Whether they work at a location that falls into a different place or is not located in a place

The 2022 ACS Subject Definition (page 100 of the PDF) provides a detailed description of how “Place of Work” is measured.

Dave Van Riper

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Thanks for this very detailed explanation, Dave, I appreciate the clarification. I see now where my interpretation was incorrect.

Hi Dave, Sorry for the follow-up but I want to clarify one point just to make sure I am understanding the data correctly. Does “Total” tell you the total working-age population residing in each tract? Or does it tell you the total number of people working in that tract? Thanks again for your help.


Dear Natalie,

That is the total number of workers age 16 and older residing in that tract.


Thank you!