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Thread: Locations of planning jobs

  1. #1
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Locations of planning jobs

    So, I've been looking for work as an entry or mid-level planner for most of 2010, and I've definitely noticed some trends in the location of these positions.

    I noticed three major concentrations:
    Rocky Mountain West
    Midwest (oustide of the Rust Belt)
    Virginia and North Carolina
    A few in South and Central Florida

    Some of these trends are surprising and some not-so-much. The Rocky Mountain West and VA/NC were the least surprising to me, but I am a little surprised to see so many jobs in the Midwest, with the most being in KS, MO, IA, and IN, and a few in northern MI, suburban Chicago, and SE WI.

    I am also surprised at the areas where I haven't really seen too many entry/mid level jobs. Like, where's Texas? I've seen probably a dozen entry and mid-level job ads in VA & NC each, but I haven't seen much from TX, which has been growing like gangbusters and supposedly hasn't been hit as hard by the recession. But perhaps they hired a glut of planners right before the economy dropped out. In the same realm, I've seen hardly anything from other fast-growing metros with lots of jurisdictions like Atlanta and Minneapolis.

    I am also surprised to not see much from Arizona. I know the housing bubble probably plays a role, but that place was growing so much, you'd still think there would be somewhat of a need down there.

    Granted, most of the job ads I see are on Cyburbia, the APA, and occasionally the State APA websites. So maybe I'm missing something?

    Anybody else notice these trends, or have you observed other trends? Any further explanation?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Texas planning agencies did seem to go on a hiring boom immediately before the recession started (I was one of the ones hired), and even though the recession hasn't hit us as hard as elsewhere, I know several planning staffs which have been shrunken, some significantly, over the past 2 years. The Planning Department at Texas A&M likes to say, "If you can plan in Texas, you can plan anywhere." They are absolutely right - it takes a lot to get to a place where Texans are friendly towards the idea of planning, let alone the practice. Most of them want us to butt out, let the engineers/markets handle it, etc. This has been a long-term trend here, at least/especially in municipal planning (the only level of government other than the State [environmental, and even then it's more regulation, less planning] and MPOs [which only handle transportation here] - counties and unincorporated areas have little or no planning controls).

    Not surprisingly, you can see the results of this in the crappy way most cities in Texas look and function. (Outside of a few pockets in some areas and one or two municipalities per region.)

    I'm not bitter or anything...

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I have found that the midwest (particularly Ohio) is doing a bit of hiring, but mostly from within, or with very little advertising.

    Virginia seems to always be hiring. I think there must be some issues at some of those places, as they have constant turnover.

    I too, am interested in why NC has been somewhat high for the last year or so.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I too, am interested in why NC has been somewhat high for the last year or so.
    Lots of growth here, with the exception of a few urban centers, most suburban/rural areas are in need of planners or more help. Another factor is there is only ONE masters in urban planning in the state of NC and many of those people (from the top ranked program) end out working out of state. If you have a master's degree you are at an advantage here.

    Edit: Not that everyone and their mother isn't trying to get work here, look at the state's unemployment rate, its comparable to many other places feeling the recession.
    Last edited by beach_bum; 27 Sep 2010 at 4:33 PM.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I always noticed a lot of entry-level planning jobs in NC as well. It doesn't seem to matter if you want to work in Appalachia, the RTP, the piedmont or some beach town... there seems to always be something available! I have a few friends from grad school who high-tailed it out of Michigan in the past couple of years for North Carolina because of the abundance of entry-level jobs down there. As a former North Carolinian myself, I would have moved back there in a heartbeat if I needed a job (and if I could have convinced my wife). My friends who have moved down there all found their jobs pretty quickly and have been able to move up a step or two pretty quickly as well but complain that wages for comparable jobs are much lower down there than in the Southeast Michigan region (but generally have much lower costs of living).

    Lately, I've noticed a lot more jobs becoming available in SE Michigan as well which seems to correspond to our economy slowly starting to recover possibly a bit ahead of the rest of the nation. Unfortunately for those doing the searching, the jobs don't seem to be advertised in the normal places like the APA or the Michigan chapter.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    People have to remember that North Carolina is a rural state with a few urban centers. Also places like the Triangle, the Triad and Charlotte (somewhat) are polycentric urban areas. That means more small governement and more regional organizations. We also have a few large military areas that have transient population. I had some friends come up from Florida to visit recently and they were surprised how rural NC was. I had to remind them that North Carolina still has about half the population of Florida and a similar land area. I am one of those that moved up here for entry-level work and I know others.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  7. #7
    The major job listing websites do not represent all or even most of the planning jobs out there. There are many jobs that are circulated only locally, or with limited exposure to outside venues.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I agree. My current and last planning jobs were not even advertised (word of mouth). When I was looking for work, I never bothered to figure why certain ads were posted. What is the point? I just did the paperwork, mailed it, and quickly moved on to the next application.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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