Knowing NYC through the H-1B


Since the famous New Yorker “View of the World from 9th Avenue”, unusual maps of NYC have been popular.

We used the 2014 H-1B visa application data available in Enigma Public to make a map of the dominant foreign skilled occupations coming into each NYC zip code.  The application data lists the headquarter address of the companies applying for H-1B visas as well as the number of worker and occupational classification they are requesting. The different colors map out the largest occupational group in a zip code for businesses headquartered in NYC. So they are showing you which field is the largest “tribe” in the neighborhood (think of it as the work version of the movie “The Warriors”).

The concentration of certified H-1B applications across NYC seems to be pretty correlated with what locals would guess specialization in these neighborhoods might be. For example, the NYC businesses headquartered in 10012 (where the amazing Enigma team lives) submitted around 560 applications in 2014 out of which more than 20% - the largest single group – were in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media.  That group also seems to be the most popular occupation for skilled incomers working in Williamsburg and Park Slope.

Parts of deep downtown - Wall Street and Whitehall – and most of midtown (East and West) are dominated by business and financial operations occupations. Workers with computer and mathematical occupations – read, software developers and computer systems analysts – are the dominant group in Chelsea, West Village, East Village and Greenwich Village as well as part of downtown. Education and health are the biggest groups in parts of uptown and Brooklyn.

It’s important to keep in mind that the numbers on the map reflect only employment by NYC-based businesses. For example, businesses headquartered in California will also employ H-1B foreign workers in their NYC locations but we can’t track the exact zip code because the application does not list it. On aggregated basis, there were certified H-1B applications for around 56,000 foreign workers where the work location listed is NYC, out of which around 31,000 were from out of state businesses primarily New Jersey. And of course these only represent the skilled foreign applicants, not the broader growth in businesses. So they’re only one piece of the picture. We will tap into other cool Enigma-sourced public data to fill out more of the picture over time.