Could your city survive a zombie apocalypse?

Study shows metros with best occupational skills and industry resources to withstand the walking dead

Posted November 2, 2015

Now that Halloween is behind us for another year, we can toss the pumpkins and pawn off the candy corn on our coworkers, saving the chocolate for ourselves.

In the spirit of the recent holiday, CareerBuilder dared to ask the question many in pop culture have asked recently: “What would happen if there was a zombie apocalypse?” In answer to this question, CareerBuilder and EMSI have released the Zombie Apocalypse Index, a totally necessary and 100 percent practical survey of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas most equipped to survive an actual night (or day) of the living dead.

The research is comprised of a weighted index ranking the 53 largest U.S. metropolitan areas (with more than 1 million residents) based on their occupational skills and industry characteristics. A standard, flesh-eating virus transmitted via biting or contact with infected blood is assumed. The index is scored on eight different factors in four categories: ability to defend against the virus, ability to contain the virus, ability to find a cure and ability to outlast the epidemic with an ample food supply. The study is based on data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI), which analyzes labor market data from more than 90 national, state and local employment resources.

The 10 metros most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse

Perhaps a history fighting for freedom gave it the edge, but thanks to the right skills, population density and industry resources, Boston, Massachusetts, has the highest chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse, according to the study.

MSA Defense
Score
Containment
Score
Cure
Score
Food
Score
Total
Score
Final
Rank
Boston, MA 11.52 9.58 20 2.88 43.99 1
Salt Lake City, UT 7.95 18.9 9.2 3.45 39.49 2
Columbus, OH 8.28 6.24 5.50 19.28 39.31 3
Baltimore, MD 17.34 8.5 11.35 2.10 39.29 4
Virginia Beach, VA 22.72 11.04 3.29 1.50 38.55 5
Seattle, WA 8.39 18.32 9.39 1.39 37.49 6
San Diego, CA 14.2 9.33 12.20 1.23 36.96 7
Kansas City, MO 14.87 11.63 4.41 4.12 35.03 8
Denver, CO 6.05 19.47 6.00 3.15 34.66 9
Indianapolis, IN 8.98 8.76 11.59 4.57 33.91 10

The 10 metros least likely to survive a zombie apocalypse

Although it may have survived an alien invasion in the movie Independence Day, New York City was found to be least equipped to survive an undead infiltration, ranking at the bottom of the list at 53.

MSA Defense
Score
Containment
Score
Cure
Score
Food
Score
Total
Score
Final
Rank
New York, NY 11.6 -11.17 3.75 1.47 5.64 53
Tampa, FL 4.73 2.49 2.66 1.15 11.03 52
Los Angeles, CA 6.73 0.51 4.32 1.42 12.98 51
Riverside - San Bernardio, CA 4.23 3.4 0.03 5.67 13.34 50
Chicago, IL 9.15 1.3 1.24 4.69 16.38 49
Miami, FL 12.46 0.59 1.66 2.07 16.78 48
Jacksonville, FL 9.61 5.1 1.57 .092 17.21 47
Milwaukee, WI 5.19 6.44 4.07 2.62 18.31 46
Providence, RI 7.76 3.72 4.05 3.72 19.24 45
Las Vegas, NV 14.83 3.29 0.18 1.11 19.41 44

For each of the four categories measured in the study, certain cities rose to the occasion more than others.

Category 1: Fighting the good fight — ability to defend against the virus

To calculate which metros are best equipped to defend themselves against a zombie ambush, the study looked at the percentage of each metro’s population in the military, the percentage of each metro’s population in protective services occupations (e.g. law enforcement, firefighting, and security); and, to figure out the availability of small arms, the percentage of total exports coming from each metro’s small arms manufacturing industries. The results suggest that Virginia Beach-Norfolk is best prepared to defend itself from a mass zombie attack, thanks to a major naval presence. Not falling far behind are Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, respectively.

Category 2: Keeping zombies out — ability to contain the virus

To calculate which cities are best equipped to keep zombies out, the study assessed each area’s engineering prowess (looking at the percentage of each metro’s population in the civil, electrical, environmental, materials, mechanical, nuclear, and engineering technician occupations); construction skills (looking at the percentage of each metro’s population in construction); and population density. (Why population density? The higher a metro’s population density, the faster its contamination rates, and the less time to organize and find a cure.) The results suggest that Denver is best prepared to fend off a zombie purge. On the heels of Denver are Houston, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and then Detroit.

Category 3: Race for the cure — ability to cure the virus

To calculate which metros are best equipped to find a cure for infection, the study scored cities based on their biomedical research and development. They did this by looking at the percentage of each metro’s population in the correlating industries. The results suggest that, with its 24,000 biological and medical scientists and professionals, Boston is most likely to develop a cure for the common zombie infection. Right after Boston, follows San Francisco, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Baltimore.

Category 4: Counting calories — ability to outlast the virus with a good food supply

To calculate which cities have the highest supply of food to outlast an impending invasion, the study scored metros based on the percentage of each area’s total exports in non-perishable food manufacturing or wholesale goods industries, including rice milling, breakfast cereal manufacturing, fruit and vegetable canning, roasted nuts, and peanut butter manufacturing. The results suggest that Grand Rapids, Michigan, home base to some of our country’s largest food manufacturers, would have the best edible resources. Other good food sources could come from Columbus, Ohio; Rochester, New York; Memphis, Tennessee; and Buffalo, New York.


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