Map Says Idahoans Googling Bike Repair, Ohioans Googling Potato Jobs

Jan 21, 2016

Idaho Googled “Bike Repair” more than any other state according to a map going around social media. It purports to show what job each state Googles more than any other. The map was created by career advice website Zippia.

There is some logic to Idahoans being interested in bike repair. Activities like road cycling and mountain biking are popular hobbies here. Mike Cooley, co-owner of George’s Cycles in Boise says they get a lot of calls from people interested in being bike mechanics. He says it’s the only common cycling related job with growing demand. Internet sales have cut into retail jobs but Cooley says people still get their bikes worked on at their local shop.

There are schools where people can get training and certificates in bike repair like the United Bicycle Institute in Oregon. The Boise Bicycle Project also offers repair classes. But Cooley says certificates and formal training are not yet widely required to get a job as a bike mechanic.

Rain On The Parade

You have to take maps like this with a grain of salt . . maybe two . . . heck, a whole container of Morton’s Iodized. First, it doesn’t show what job people in each state Googled most, just what job each state Googled more than others. "Public Radio Reporter" could have been the most Googled job in all 50 states but it only would have showed up on the map for one state. (Hypothetical example, nobody Googles that job)

Maps like this are also more art project for the people who make them than science. In this case the people at Zippia went to the tool Google Trends and started entering every job they could think of (they say several hundred.) So it’s based entirely on which terms they thought to enter and which they didn’t.

It's highly doubtful many of the people in Kentucky who searched for “Tree Hugger,” were thinking, “you know, I’m interested in working in the tree hugging field, I wonder what’s available.” And maybe, just maybe some of the Pennsylvanians who searched for “Dance Mom” (came in second to "Merchandiser") were interested in the TV show Dance Moms, which is partially filmed in their state, rather than thinking of it as a “job.”

Plus, if a state had more than one job its residents searched for more than other states, the map creators went with the most interesting. That’s how California got “Lion Tamer” and New York got “Professional Cuddler.”

So think of it as just for fun. But even with that as the criteria, are we really expected to believe that Ohio Googled “Potato Jobs” (on the map it just says “Potato” but in the article it’s “Potato Jobs”) more than people in Idaho? Could the people at Zippia, like many others in this country, have the two confused? Looking at the map certainly won’t help alleviate that confusion.

“Hey, this one in the middle says potato. It must be Idaho. They all want to be potatoes when they grow up.” – hypothetical person seeing the map on Facebook.  

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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